New Volcano Eruption Closes Iceland Airport

But Grimsvotn should not disrupt air travel, scientists say
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted May 22, 2011 5:50 AM CDT
Updated May 22, 2011 7:48 AM CDT

(Newser) – More than a year after an Iceland volcano spewed ash high into the atmosphere, wreaking havoc on European air travel, another volcano has erupted in the small, island nation, reports the AP. The Grimsvotn volcano—Iceland's most active, with 13 eruptions in the last century—began erupting yesterday just after 6pm local time, and within an hour ash had already risen 12 miles high. Officials closed Iceland's main airport today. "There is a very large area in southeast Iceland where there is almost total darkness and heavy fall of ash," says a geophysicist.

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Scientists said they expected air travel should emerge largely unscathed this time: Grimsvotn's eruptions are usually smaller than the Eyjafjallajokull volcano, and produce ash that is less harmful. "The ash in Eyjafjallajokull was persistent or unremitting and fine-grained," said an Icelandic geophysicist. "The ash in Grimsvotn is more coarse and not as likely to cause danger as it falls to the ground faster and doesn't stay as long in the air as in the Eyjafjallajokull eruption." (Read more Iceland stories.)

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