It was world news that affected air travel globally when the volcano Eyjafjallajökull had a series of eruptions in 2010 that caused a thick black cloud of volcanic dust to hover over northern Europe.
It is no wonder that aviation enthusiasts and passionate geologists around the globe are looking on in awe and wonder as a volcano on the Reykjanes Peninsula has erupted surprisingly for the first time in over 780 years.
The region of volcanoes has long been considered dormant by the Iceland Meteorological Office (IMO), and the current eruption is being labelled as ‘small’. In a recent statement the IMO has tried to ease worries and concerns around the eruption, but this has not been helped by the Icelandic Prime Minister.
The Icelandic Prime Minister, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, took to Twitter on the 20th March to say “We ask people to keep away from the immediate area and stay safe.”
There are concerns that anyone left in the area my fall foul of ‘gas pollution’ from the eruption.
The eruption was first seen online by the Meteorological Office via a webcam used to keep watch on the site. Thermal imaging technology was later used to confirm the views from the webcam. Lava coming from the eruption currently covers a sizable area measuring 1 km 2 long and is an estimated 500 m wide.
To be safe, local people from the coastal town of Grindavík have been warned of the eruption and either been asked to stay indoors or evacuated from the town. Furtherafield, air traffic has been halted at Keflavik International Airport, the biggest airport in Iceland serving the capital Reykjavík, as both inbound and outbound air travel has been stopped.
With air travel stopped over large parts of Europe in 2010, it is hoped that the new eruption will not take on the scale of last time. Its true effect however will be hard to measure as coronavirus prevention measures have meant a long term reduction in air travel activity anyway since the start of the pandemic last year.