This frame grab from APTN shows the volcano near the Eyjafjallajoekull glacier, the fifth largest glacier in Iceland, as it begins erupting early Sunday morning March 21, 2010. Fearing flooding from the glacier melt, authorities evacuated some 400 people in the area 160 kilometers (100 miles) southeast of the capital, Reykjavik, as a precaution but no damage or injuries have been reported according to authorities. The last time the volcano erupted was in the 1820s. (AP Photo/APTN)
REYKJAVIK, Iceland — A volcano erupted near a glacier in southern Iceland, shooting ash and molten lava into the air and forcing the evacuation Sunday of hundreds of people from a nearby village.
There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage from the volcano but a state of emergency was declared in communities near the Eyjafjallajokull glacier and scientists feared the eruption could trigger a larger and potentially more dangerous eruption at the nearby Katla volcano.
Saturday's eruption, which occurred just before midnight (2000 EDT, 8 p.m.), came weeks after a series of small earthquakes. Television footage showed lava flows along the fissure.
"This was a rather small and peaceful eruption but we are concerned that it could trigger an eruption at the nearby Katla volcano, a vicious volcano that could cause both local and global damage," said Pall Einarsson, a geophysicist at the University of Iceland's Institute of Earth Science.
Authorities evacuated 450 people in the area 160 kilometers (100 miles) southeast of the capital, Reykjavik, said Vidir Reynisson of the Icelandic Civil Protection Department. Evacuation centers were set up near the village of Hella.
The most immediate threat was to livestock because of the caustic gases.
"We had to leave all our animals behind," Elin Ragnarsdottir, a 47-year-old farmer, told RUV, Iceland's national broadcaster from one of the evacuation centers. "We got a call and a text message ... and we just went."
Iceland sits on a large volcanic hot spot in the mid-oceanic ridge. Volcanic eruptions are often triggered by seismic activity when the Earth's plates move and when magma from deep underground pushes its way to the surface.
Scientists have been monitoring recent activity using seismometers and global positioning instruments,
"This event has had a long prelude in earthquake activity," Einarsson told The Associated Press. "The volcano has been inflating since the beginning of the year, both rising and swelling. One of the possible scenarios we're looking at is that this small eruption could bring about something bigger."
Authorities initially feared the eruption occurred below the 100-square-mile (160 square-kilometer) glacier and could have triggered floods if the glacial ice melted. Scientists, however, concluded from an aerial survey Sunday that the eruption occurred near the glacier in an area where there was no ice.
"This is the best possible place for an eruption," said Tumi Gudumundsson, a geologist at the University of Iceland.
There hasn't been an eruption near the Eyjafjallajokull glacier since 1821.
The Icelandic Civil Aviation Administration ordered aircraft to stay 120 nautical miles away from the volcano area, essentially closing it off because visibility is low in some areas. Reykjavik appeared to be unaffected with clear visibility.
All domestic flights were canceled until further notice, the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service reported.
Three Icelandair flights from the U.S. — departing from Seattle, Boston and Orlando, Florida — bound for Keflavik airport in Reykjavik were turned back to Boston, leaving about 500 people waiting, the airline said.
Flights to Stockholm, London, Amsterdam and Frankfurt were scheduled to leave Sunday morning but a flight to Oslo was canceled and passengers were being rerouted. The airline expected further delays throughout Sunday.
First settled by Vikings in the 9th century, Iceland is known as the land of fire and ice because of its volcanos and glaciers.
In the mid 1780s, the Laki volcano erupted, prompting scores to die of famine when livestock and crops were destroyed. During the Middle Ages, Icelanders called the Hekla volcano the "Gateway to Hell," believing that souls were dragged below. Hekla is Iceland's most active volcano.
Video made by the Icelandic coast guard of the volcano eruption near Eyjafjallajökull glacier, in South Iceland. The eruption started shortly before midnight on Saturday 20th of March 2010.
Iceland evacuates hundreds as volcano erupts again By Associated Press Writers Gudjon Helgason And Jill Lawless, Associated Press Writers – Wed Apr 14, 4:44 pm ET REYKJAVIK, Iceland – A volcano under a glacier in Iceland erupted Wednesday for the second time in less than a month, melting ice, spewing smoke and steam, closing a major road and forcing hundreds of people to flee rising floodwaters.
Getting more and more interesting. All of the airports of Scandinavia and Great Britain are now closed due to the cloud of ashes. Even Heathrow is closed, which is creating chaos in air transport all over Europe.
I have a friend who is hoping to fly to Brazil on Saturday morning... looking pretty iffy. The next decision regarding the 25 airports that are closed in northern France will be taken at 10am tomorrow.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. We have a small problem. All four engines have stopped. We are doing our damnedest to get them under control. I trust you are not in too much distress.
I'm looking forward to seeing some beautiful sunset pictures in the Image Bank thread by those of you grounded in Northern Europe and the UK....
VOLCANIC SUNSET ALERT: A cloud of ash from Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano is drifting across Europe today. This has caused a massive disruption in air travel, as many countries have grounded their planes. On the bright side, the cloud is causing sunsets of rare beauty. Europeans should look west at the end of the day.
This photo is to be found here, along with graphics of the ash plume and the air traffic patterns it's affecting. There are also videos and links to volcano web cams. The reader comments and links are also interesting.
Absolutely do not miss this article for fascinating history and in-depth information.
This site gives a good overview of air traffic over Europe in real time. Oddly when I looked just now there was a single flight in progress over the British Isles, a Ryan Air flight from Dublin to Liverpool.
At the car rental desk tonight, I saw people smile with joy at the prospect of being charged "only" 400€ as a drop off charge for returning a car to Barcelona, Milan, Rome or Madrid tomorrow morning after driving all night, paying tolls, petrol and normal rental charges...