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Aviation alert downgraded to orange

29.08.2014 - 11:25
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The Icelandic Met Office has downgraded the aviation alert over the volcanic eruption area from red to orange. There is not considered to be a risk of volcanic ash reaching the atmosphere.

The Icelandic Transport Authority has also reduced the restricted flight area around the volcanic activity from 10 nautical miles (NM) to 3 NM and 5,000 foot altitude. The warning area restricting instrument flight rules flight remains unchanged.

The eruption fissure is about 5 kilometers from the Vatnajökull glacier. The fissure appears to be about 1 kilometer long. The lava is thin and flowing quickly southeast towards the glacier. 

Magnús Tumi Guðmundsson, professor of geophysics at the University of Iceland, says that the eruption in Holuhraun lava field might be called an "accident" — magma has leaked to the surface. 

Magnús says that it has been clear from the rifts spotted in the last few days that the distance down to the magma intrusion is very short and it has now breached the surface. Everything points towards the eruption having little effect on the intrustion, which is still growing and there is still much seismic activity.

He says that older men than he consider the current development similar to the Krafla fires — a series of eruptions in Krafla volcano in Northern Iceland in the years 1975-1985. 

„There has been a series of divergence events, with new magma filling the gap which is created. And it is not until that gap is filled that magma reaches the surface in great amounts. We can't say if that will happen in the next days or weeks, or if this process stops now and then starts again. We need to be prepared for the possibility that this might be the start of a process which lasts for some time,“ says Magnús.

This story, by the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service (RUV), was updated on August 29. 2014, at 11:25 GMT.

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