Stockholm: Iceland's volcano is producing mostly steam rather than ash and should calm within a few days, national police said on Thursday, indicating that any further disruption to flights in northern Europe should be limited.
The Grimsvotn volcano's eruption over the weekend, which was more powerful than an explosion one year ago at another volcano, has caused far less chaos for travellers because of new rules for airlines. But it has exposed some disarray among the authorities which decide on aviation safety. "The volcano is still active, but there is just steam and smoke," Hjalmar Bjorgvinsson, superintendent at the national police, told a news agency.
"I hope in a few days it will go to sleep again. Everything is moving in the right direction."
European air traffic agency Eurocontrol said it expected the ash cloud to dissipate and did not see any major disruption to travel in Europe on Thursday.
The eruption forced cancellations in flights in Scotland, northern England, Germany and parts of Scandinavia.
Geophysicists say the worst appears to be over and that the volcano is not likely to start spewing big amounts of ash again, though volcanoes are extremely unpredictable.
The ash cloud from Grimsvotn -- Iceland's most active volcano -- rose as high as 20 km (12 miles) into the sky after the eruption but gradually fell before disappearing early Wednesday morning.
More than 10 million people were hit by a six-day European airspace shutdown when Eyjafjallajokull erupted last year, costing airlines almost $2 billion.
New procedures put the onus on airlines to make judgments on whether it is safe to fly through ash, in coordination with the forecasting authorities, particularly the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre at the British Met Office and civil aviation bodies.
First Published: Thursday, May 26, 2011, 17:33