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Volcanic eruption Grimsvotn

Here we go again; another eruption in Iceland with all air traffic grounded. Direct quote from the Icelandic Met Office (click on image to go to its site):

The eruption began after 17:30 on Saturday May 21st (see photos). The altitude of the plume is monitored by two weather radars, one located in Keflavík International Airport 220 km from the volcano, and a mobile one currently situated approx. 80 km away from the volcano. Initially the plume reached approx. 20 km altitude but during the night it fell to 15 km, occasionally rising to 20 km.  During the morning of the 22nd the plume was lower still, or at around 10 km in altitude, rising occasionally to 15 km.

Lightning is monitored using the British Met. Office lightning detection system. Light[n]ing activity follows a similar pattern as the plume altitude with intermittent periods of strong lightning activity.  During the most intense lightning period the number of lightnings per hour were 1000 times more than during the Eyjafjallajokull Eruption. The Grímsvötn volcano is Iceland‘s most active volcano. It last erupted in 2004 and the current eruption is in a similar location. Flash floods south of the volcano often occur associated with eruptions, but can also happen in between eruptions. The latest such flood occurred in October 2010, so a big flood currently appears unlikely.”

What does this mean for tourists? For one, they can neither arrive nor leave until tomorrow (at least that is the word from the airlines); it all depends on how the winds behave (for flight traffic concerns, please consult London VAAC – the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre). There is a chance European flights will be affected if the winds carry the ash south-eastward. Southern Iceland is covered in ash, so anyone travel there might want to reconsider unless we get heavy rains. Spending a vacation with ash whirling around is not a good idea as it can have health consequences.

An eruption so soon after Eyjafjallajokull does not give any indication of increased seismic activity in Iceland. Naples and even Yellowstone Park in the US are just as likely to erupt as one of our array of volcanoes and these two are far more deadly. Tourists planning to come here are advised to stay away from the region in the vicinity of Grimsvotn mainly because of the ash. There is no danger present; only the bother is being stranded but that can happen anywhere as this kind of ash can travel long distances. If visiting the area, make sure to bring a jar to take home some ash souvenirs.


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