Iceland Volcano: Aviation Risk Level Lowered After Quakes

Iceland’s Met Office said Monday that the seismic activity at  Bardarbunga volcano has eased slightly after a number of large earthquakes. The Met Office recorded quakes of 5.5 and 5.3 magnitudes on Sunday, the strongest earthquakes at Bardardunga since 1996. Meteorologists have recorded more than 300 quakes in the area since the seismic activity began earlier this month.

Seismic activity shows no signs of slowing down, says Iceland’s Met Office

Iceland has eased the aviation warning level from “red” to “orange.” Red alert indicates a volcanic eruption is underway or imminent. The warning code was raised to red on Saturday after a small volcanic eruption under Iceland’s Dyngjujokull glacier, but there were no signs of the ashes or gases breaking through the ice. The Met Office said Monday that there were no indications of the seismic activity slowing down, so an eruption can’t be ruled out.

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Authorities eased the alert level after a flight over the area found no signs of eruption even as rumbling at the volcano intensified. The Iceland Met Office’s August 23 warning of an eruption triggered concerns of the 2010-like disruptions. The ash cloud erupting from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in 2010 shut down the European airspace for six days. Carriers were forced to cancel more than 100,000 flights. That affected more than 10 million passengers and cost airlines about $1.9 billion. Ash coming out of volcanoes is a serious threat to airplanes because its glass-like particles could hurt engines.

Iceland police said restrictions would still be in effect

Bardardunga lies in a different range to the Eyjafjallajokull volcano. It is located in south-east Iceland under the Vatnajoekull glacier. Area around Bardardunga has been evacuated. The region is mainly used by tourists during the summer for campsites and trekking cabins. The police said restrictions on roads would still be in effect. People are also prohibited from the Jokulsargljufur canyon and Dettifoss waterfall.

Brussels-based Eurocontrol said the Volcanic Ash Advisory Center in London would issue forecast about the volcanic ash levels in the atmosphere as soon as the volcano had erupted.