Update: Iceland has retracted the eruption alert.
Iceland warned airlines of a potential ash plume that may disrupt flights as one of the island’s biggest volcanoes erupted after a week of rumbling.
The aviation color code was changed to “red,” signifying that an “eruption is imminent or in progress — significant emission of ash into atmosphere likely,” the Icelandic Met Office said. The airspace above the eruption has been closed, according to the island’s Civil Protection Agency.
The seismic activity in Bardarbunga, which began on Aug. 16, has raised concern that airlines may face a repeat of the 2010 disruptions when a cloud belched from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano forced carriers to cancel more than 100,000 flights and caused about $1.7 billion in lost revenue. Ash is a menace to jetliners because the glass-like particles can damage engines by melting and congealing.
The Bardarbunga volcano is 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) wide and rises about 1,900 meters (6,234 feet) above sea level. It last erupted in 1996 and can spew both ash and molten lava. The volcano lies beneath Vatnajokull, Europe’s largest glacier.
Roads to and from the area have been closed and the Coast Guard has today flown over the area with scientists from the University of Iceland and people from the Civil Protection Agency.