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Volcano erupts, Iceland issues then rescinds red alert

The Met Office had hinted that an eruption was inevitable, reporting earlier this week that volcanic cauldrons could be seen forming under the ice.
By Brooks Hays   |   Aug. 29, 2014 at 11:07 AM   |   Comments

REYKJAVIK, Iceland, Aug. 29 (UPI) -- After days and days of earthquakes, Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano finally erupted Friday, prompting Icelandic officials to raise the aerospace alert level to code red -- only to lower it back to orange hours later.

Reykjavik's Meteorological Office said the small fissure eruption began in the wee hours of Friday morning. Fresh molten lava oozed from a crack in the Holuhraun Lava Field just north of the Vatnajokull glacier, compelling Icelandic Air Traffic Control to momentarily create a no-fly-zone bubble.

"The Icelandic Met Office has raised the aviation color code over the eruption site to red and the Icelandic Air Traffic Control has closed down the air space from the earth up to 18,000 feet," the National Crisis Coordination Center said in a statement.

But as the eruption produced little to no volcanic ash, officials decided to downgrade the alert level to level orange once more and cancel the no-fly zone.

"The small eruption is not a threat to aviation and the published aviation warning area has been cancelled," officials said. "A three nautical mile radius and 5,000-foot altitude immediate safety restricted flight area around the volcanic activity set by the Icelandic Transport Authority remains is effect."

The Met Office had hinted that an eruption was inevitable, reporting earlier this week that volcanic cauldrons could be seen forming under the ice. "The cauldrons have been formed as a result of melting, possibly a sub-glacial eruption," Met officials reported Thursday.

The rumbling Bardarbunga volcanic system has had many on edge -- especially those with travel plans or portfolios full of airline stocks -- recalling the 2010 Eyjafjallajokull volcano that sent an ash cloud over Europe and brought air-travel to a stand still for days, ruining holidays and costing airlines millions of dollars.

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