A small eruption of Iceland’s Bardarbunga volcano has prompted the closure of airspace over the immediate area this weekend. The position of the volcano, under the ice of Europe’s biggest glacier has airlines on alert as the world watches the situation unfold.
Scientists flew over the ice cap on Saturday, but could see no obvious signs of the eruption on the surface, but Icelandic authorities have issued a red warning – meaning that there is a high probability of ‘significant emission of ash into the atmosphere’ and have declared a no-fly zone of 100 nautical miles by 140 nautical miles around the eruption as a precaution, but have not closed down the North Atlantic side.
There is international concern, however, following the disruption of 2010, when more than 100,000 flights were cancelled amid fears of the effects of volcanic ash upon jet engines.
There is still a chance that the eruption could remain contained beneath the ice, which is between 100 and 400 metres thick. The thickness of the ice can affect the ash levels of an eruption, according to Melissa Pfeiffer, Icelandic Meteorological Office volcanologist. “The thicker the ice, the more water there is, the more explosive it will be and the more ash-rich the eruption will be,” she said.