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22 May 2011

Iceland's Most Active Volcano Erupts



Luckily, the end of the world didn't come upon us yesterday as predicted by American preacher and radio broadcaster Harold Camping, who in March was reported by The Independent to have warned that at 6 pm on May 21 as little as 2% of the world's population will be immediately transported to Heaven and the rest of us will get straight to the Other Place.

As weird as it may sound, quite a lot of people believed him, and there were even cameras set up in some major cities (like Oslo) to record the last hours of humanity but luckily, those last hours didn't come. Instead, a large number of small earthquakes in Iceland preceded the start of another volcano eruption at about 6 pm.
Photo: eir@si
Grímsvötn is Iceland's most active volcano, with at least 60 eruptions over the past 800 years, the last one recorded in 2004 but it is known as a "gentle" volcano with mild and short eruptions. The Icelandic authorities are stressing that the Grímsvötn eruption which began last evening is not as strong as last year's Eyjafjallajökull, and will hardly cause any air travel chaos.

As a precaution a no fly zone of 120 nautical miles over the volcano was set up last night but there were no delays or cancellations to flights into and out of Iceland and international aviation can easily fly around the volcano zone.

Considerable flooding is expected today, because Grímsvötn is located under the Vatnajökull glacier, which is the largest ice cap by volume in Europe. But since flooding is usual when Grímsvötn erupts, the infrastructure of south Iceland is built to cope with it. Iceland's ring road, Route 1 highway is closed in the area of the glacier in preparation for the flood and due to poor visibility. According to the reports the ash cloud has risen to 45 000 feet and a great amount of it has been falling around the Vatnajökull glacier and the towns in the area. The ash is reportedly much coarser than the one from the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption, which will prevent it from spreading and disrupting air traffic.

You can read a description of the 2004 Grímsvötn eruption here. And for the more adventurous, here is a flight over the volcano - a video composed by our very own contributing writer and consultant Marin Ívan PhD, expert in the field of eco-technologies from Islandia Geomatics.


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