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Iceland lowers threat; no signs of imminent eruption

Aug. 25, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland - Iceland lowered its aviation alert level to orange from red Sunday, saying there was no sign of an imminent eruption at the Bardarbunga volcano. And scientists at the Icelandic Meteorological Office said their announcement Saturday that the volcano had experienced a subglacial eruption was wrong.


August 25, 2014
By The Associated Press

But the office cautioned in a statement that seismic activity at the
volcano, which has been hit by thousands of earthquakes over the past
week, was not slowing, and an eruption remained a possibility in coming
days.

 

Two earthquakes measuring over 5 in
magnitude — the biggest yet — shook the volcano beneath Iceland's vast
Vatnajokull glacier early Sunday. The Met Office recorded earthquakes of
5.3 and 5.1 in the early hours.

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Iceland had raised the
alert for aviation Saturday to red, the highest level on a five-point
scale, warning that an ash-emitting eruption could be imminent.

 

An orange alert indicates "heightened or escalating unrest with increased potential of eruption."

 

After the alert was lowered, aviation
authorities lifted a no-fly zone that had been imposed for 100 nautical
miles by 140 nautical miles (185 kilometres by 260 kilometres) around
the volcano.

 

A 2010 eruption of
Iceland's Eyjafjallajokul volcano caused a week of international
aviation chaos, with more than 100,000 flights cancelled. Aviation
officials closed Europe's air space for five days out of fear that
volcanic ash could harm jet engines.

 

Any new eruption would be likely to be
less disruptive. European aviation authorities have changed their
policy, giving airlines detailed information about the location and
density of ash clouds but leaving decisions to airlines and national
regulators.

 

"Even if there were to be a major
eruption, it would not necessarily produce a high ash column, so the
likelihood of interruption of trans-Atlantic and European air travel
remains low," said Open University geoscientist David Rothery.

 

Britain's National Air
Traffic Service said it was monitoring what it called a "dynamic
situation" but was expecting normal operations Sunday.