Iceland lowers aviation alert warning down to orange

Risk of ash was at the highest level of red today after new fissure eruption

 An aerial view of white clouds of smoke and steam rising from a fissure eruption taken during a flight over the Holuhraun lava field north of the Vatnajokull glacier, Iceland. Photograph: EPA

An aerial view of white clouds of smoke and steam rising from a fissure eruption taken during a flight over the Holuhraun lava field north of the Vatnajokull glacier, Iceland. Photograph: EPA

Sun, Aug 31, 2014, 17:14

Iceland cut its ash alert level for aviation to orange from red this eveing, after raising it to the maximum level earlier in the day due to a fresh eruption from a fissure in the Bardarbunga volcano system.

“No ash has has been detected. The Aviation Color Code for Bardarbunga has therefore been reset to orange,“ the Meteorological Office said in a statement.

Earlier today a new fissure eruption in an ice-free area of the volcano system prompted authorities to raise their warning level for the risk of ash to aviation to the highest level of red.

Iceland’s largest volcanic system, which cuts a 190 km long and up to 25 km wide swathe across the North Atlantic island, has been hit by thousands of earthquakes over the last two weeks and scientists have been on high alert.

In 2010, an ash cloud from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano, in a different region of Iceland, closed much of Europe’s air space for six days.

Red is the highest level on a five-colour scale and indicates that an eruption is imminent or under way, with a risk of spewing ash. Iceland’s aviation authorities had declared a danger area which reaches from the ground to 6,000 feet around the volcano.

On Friday, a 600 metre-long fissure 5 km north of Dyngjujokull glacier in the north Vatnajokull glacier erupted but no ash was detected at the time.

That eruption only lasted for a few hours.

“This is a little bit larger fissure eruption than on Friday,” Armann Hoskuldsson, a geologist at the University of Iceland who is working in the area, told Reuters.

“There is more lava and more rifts in the ice cap. The rifts are approximately 1 km further to the north than after the fissure eruption on Friday.”

Agencies