Experts say the eruption of Iceland’s most active volcano this weekend is unlikely to create the international traffic chaos seen a year ago.
The Grimsvotn burst into life on Saturday night forcing a temporary closure of local airspace, but the country was ready said Pall Einarsson, a geophysicist at the University of Iceland.
“An eruption now is not a surprise. In fact the volcano has been monitored and this eruption was anticipated already last fall,” he explained.
A plume 20 kilometres high has cast a dark cloud over much of the country and covered surrounding villages in ash – even Reykjavik 400 kilometres away got a coating.
But the circumstances are very different to last year.
“It is not likely to be anything on the scale that was produced last year when the Eyjafjallajokull volcano erupted,” Einarsson added. “That was an unusual volcano, an unusual ash size distribution and unusual weather pattern which all conspired together to make life difficult in Europe.”
In fact it forced the biggest ever peace-time closure of European airspace.
More than 100,000 flights were cancelled, leaving 8-million passengers stranded.
Authorities were accused of being over cautious, but a recent study has confirmed fears fine ash particles could damage aircraft engines were well-founded.