by Alessandro Brunelli
Geologist Thorunn Skaftadottir of the Icelandic Met Office, in an interview released yesterday to the Icelandic Newspaper Morgunbladid, played down recent fears of another ash cloud similar to the one which covered European skies in April and stated that “there are no signs of a new possible eruption”.
The small earthquakes that hit Southern Iceland in the past few days are not yet cause for concern and are considered to be common for the area.
Meltwater had started flowing from the top of Grimsvotn volcano in Vatnajokull on October 31st, and later reached the river Gigjukvisl, whose level rose by 3 feet between Tuesday and Wednesday.
The flooding was interpreted as a signal of the awakening of the volcano, and brought back memories of the 2004 eruption, whose plume reached Sweden, Finland and Norway, and caused minor disruption to flights all over Europe.
This led the UK Civic Aviation Authority to prepare plans to face a similar inconvenient.
Such plans include putting all of the country’s airports under alert and a loosening of previous ash cloud restrictions.
A CAA source revealed yesterday to The Herald that the understanding of the effect of ash cloud on jet engines has significantly improved since last April, and that “there is now a level of volcanic ash that it is safe to operate in, and manufacturers have agreed that”.
This new approach, along with the slowing pace of seismic activity around Grimsvotn, make the possibility of a chaotic Christmas for air travellers very unlikely.
The Grimsvotn volcano has historically been an active one, with previous eruptions in 1998, 1996, 1982 and 1972.
Records of eruptions go back as far as 1782, when the cloud allegedly covered Europe in a blue smoke.