`No end in sight` to Iceland eruption: Geologist
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Last Updated: Tuesday, May 11, 2010, 10:27
  
Reykjavik: There is no end in sight to the eruption of Iceland's Eyjafjoell volcano although it is spewing far less ash than last week when it caused new flight chaos across Europe, a geologist said Monday.

The volcano began erupting on April 14, releasing ash that last month caused the biggest aerial shutdown in Europe since World War II, affecting more than 100,000 flights and eight million passengers over a week.

The ash output hit a secondary high last Thursday, spewing a plume as high as 10,000 metres (32,800 feet) into the air, but had since decreased, Magnus Tumi Gudmundsson of the University of Iceland said.

However, "The eruption is ongoing ... We see no end in sight," the geologist said.

Eyjafjoell was on Monday emitting about 50 tonnes of ash every second, down from between 300-400 tonnes per second on Thursday, he said.

"We expect it will be declining over the next few days, so gradually things should go back to a slightly better stage," he said.

The volcano had almost stopped emitting ash for several weeks as red-hot lava oozed out instead, but last week converted back to its initial, explosive state, again causing flights to be grounded in several European countries.

It showed "a considerable increase in activity about a week ago... which is what is causing this renewal of disruptions in European air travel," Gudmundsson said.

While Eyjafjoell might return to a more docile state, emitting lava instead of ash, there was no way of knowing when the eruption itself would end, he said.

"There is still slight earthquake activity under the volcano and we see no indication the eruption will stop in the next few days," he said, adding "but nothing is impossible."

Gudmundsson said it was in one way positive the eruption was continuing. "While it is ongoing, I don't expect any other eruptions," he said.

Eyjafjoell has previously erupted on four known occasions, with each followed by blasts at the nearby Katla volcano which is considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in Iceland, and which last erupted in 1918.

"In the past, each eruption here has led to an eruption in the Katla volcano, which is much more active and which erupts much more frequently and has larger eruptions," Gudmundsson said.

The ongoing eruption was the largest ever registered at Eyjafjoell, he said.

The geologist stressed however that so far, "there is no sign of any activity at Katla."

Bureau Report


First Published: Tuesday, May 11, 2010, 10:27


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