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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Brace yourselves: Iceland's volcanic ash could reach Scotland in 48 HOURS and rest of UK by Thursday if eruption continues

By Daily Mail Reporter

-Keflavik airport was closed at 8.30am this morning
-Domestic flights cancelled and no flights can land or take off until further notice
-Ash and steam from Grimsvotn volcano hurled 12 miles into the air
-The volcano is Iceland's most active and has not erupted since 2004

Chaos in the sky: Aerial view of the eruption of the volcano Grimsvotn in the south-east of Iceland which has forced shut its main international airport

Ash from Iceland's most active volcano could reach northern Scotland by Tuesday and the rest of the UK, France and Spain by Thursday, experts say.

The Grimsvotn volcano erupted late last night hurling steam and ash 12 miles into the sky forcing the country's main international airport to close.

Initial reports this morning suggested the ash cloud was heading to Greenland, but now scientists say it is on its way to Europe.

Huge eruption: Smoke plumes from the Grimsvotn volcano create a stunning scene about 120 miles east of Rejkjavik

An infra-red image showing the plume of smoke - in brown - over Iceland but experts say its is not heading for Europe

Domestic flights at Keflavik airport, close to the capital Reykjavik, have been cancelled and no flights have been allowed to take off or land since 8.30am this morning.

However, experts say the ash cloud will probably not cause the same kind of disruption as when Eyjafjallajokull erupted last April, as its eruptions tend to be smaller and the particles from it less likely to disperse so far into the atmosphere.

Last year, Europe came to a virtual standstill as flights were grounded for days for fear dust and ash would get into aircraft engines and cause accidents. An estimated 10 million travellers were stranded.

'There is no reason to expect Grimsvotn's current eruption to produce the volume of finely fragmented ash that caused such disruption during last year's Eyjafjallajokull eruption,' said Open University Volcano Dynamics Group expert David Rothery.

'There will be re-routing of some transatlantic flights, but I doubt that it will become necessary to close European airspace. The eruption is also expected to cause local flooding because of escape of meltwater,' he said.

Eruption: Ash rises 12 miles into the sky at the Grimsvotn volcano begins to erupt

Awesome power: Keflavik airport has been closed to air passengers as of 8.30am this morning following the eruption

Settling: Less than an hour after the eruption the ash cloud had reached an altitude of 11 kilometres creating a fog over the area

He said the plume from the volcano had been seen on radar screens as high as nine miles up, but he said the smoke was going straight up into the air.

University of Iceland geophysicist Pall Einarsson said: 'Grimsvotn is a very powerful volcano, so we’re monitoring it closely, even if the last few eruptions have been harmless.'

He said ash was also coming from the volcano, but added: 'We do not expect this to be a big one as it’s coming from the same crater as the last three eruptions, which were all small.'

Mr Einarsson added that a farmer in an area south of the glacier said that ash had already begun to fall on his land, Reuters reports.

A team of scientists from Iceland's capital Reykjavik flew to the area on Saturday to check on the situation.

Mr Einarsson said: 'The ash in Eyjafjallajokull was persistent or unremitting and fine-grained.

'The ash in Grimsvotn is more coarse and not as likely to cause danger as it falls to the ground faster and doesn't stay as long in the air as in the Eyjafjallajokull eruption.'

Europe's air traffic control organisation said on Sunday: "There is currently no impact on European or trans-atlantic flights and the situation is expected to remain so for the next 24 hours.

'Aircraft operators are constantly being kept informed of the evolving situation,' the Brussels-based organisation said.

The Isavia civil aviation authority said it had decided to shut the island's main airport, which is about 30 miles from capital city Reykjavik.

'The ash distribution forecast over the next six hours shows that the ash from the volcano will spread over Iceland today, leading to the closure of most Icelandic airports as the day goes on,' it added in a statement.

The Grimsvotn volcano lies under the uninhabited Vatnajokull glacier in the south east of Iceland and has not erupted since 2004.

A no-fly zone was immediately designated for 120 nautical miles (220 kilometers) in all directions from the volcano.

A spokesman for Iceland's air traffic authority said the flight ban was a precautionary measure until the full extent of the problem was known.

Icelandic Met Office geologist Hjorleifur Sveinbjornsson said: 'It's a big eruption, but it is unlikely to be like last year.'

Falling ash: A car travels through ash in the town of Kirkjubaejarklaustur forcing drivers to slow down

Rising fast: Experts say the ash is not heading for Europe but is being blown towards Greenland and will not cause the chaos created by last year's volcano

Last year: Southern Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull glacier sent ash into the air in April last year bringing Europe to a virtual standstill



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