Icelandic authorities are stressing to the world’s media that the Grimsvotn eruption which began this evening is not the same as the more violent Eyjafjallajokull, and extremely unlikely to cause the sort of air travel chaos seen last year.
Grimsvotn is Iceland’s most active volcano. It last erupted in 2004 and 1998. It is known for mostly short and “gentle” eruptions, although it is also known to cause localised glacial flooding.
Aircraft are being told to avoid the volcano area, as volcanic ash is a danger to jet engines. The no-fly zone is small however, and no delays or cancellations are being reported.
Previous eruptions at Grimvotn, underneath the Vatnajokull glacier, have caused some minor delays to aviation; but the volcano has never caused international flights to be cancelled. It erupted in 1922, 1933, 1934, 1938, 1945, 1954, 1983, 1998 and 2004. Scientists had been expecting an eruption this year, based on previous experience.
(Photo: Eyjafjallajokull eruptingin 2010 // Anders Peter Amsnæs)