A status report on the volcanic eruption which started in the Holuhraun lava field, north of Dyngjujökull glacier, at 00:02 this morning, reads that that airborne ash material produced is minimal and that all airports in Iceland are open.
The domestic airport in Akureyri has been reopened after a temporary closure last night. The eruption has had no effect on international flights.
However, the Icelandic Met office has raised the aviation color-code from orange to red over the eruption site, as stated in the status report released by the National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police – Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management at 7 am this morning.
Furthermore, the Reykjavík Air Traffic Control Center has declared an aviation danger area reaching 5,000 feet altitude covering part of the highlands north of Vatnajökull glacier and the Icelandic Transport Authority has issued a restricted area 18 km (11 miles) around the volcano and up to 5,000 feet above ground.
The eruption in Holuhraun is a small fissure eruption. Scientists estimate that the fissure is approximately 1-km (3,300-feet) long. Seismic eruption tremor is low indicating effusive eruption without significant explosive activity. There are no signs of flooding.
According to the latest news, volcanic activity is subsiding.
As a precaution, the National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police, together with the District Commissioners in Húsavík and Seyðisfjörður, has decided to raise the Civil Protection level to emergency phase due to the eruption.
Restrictions on roads and areas in the highlands north of Vatnajökull glacier is still in effect as well as closures in Jökulsárgljúfur canyon up to the west side of Dettifoss waterfall.
When increased seismic activity was first detected in Bárðarbunga volcano on August 16, scientists were concerned that a large volcanic eruption might occur under the northwestern corner of Vatnajökull glacier where the volcano is located.
A massive sub-glacial eruption in that location could potentially lead to a monumental flood in glacial river Jökulsá á Fjöllum, destroying bridges and posing danger to inhabitants living near the river in Northeast Iceland.
However, since then, an intrusive dike has formed, channeling magma away from the Bárðarbunga caldera, through Dyngjujökull outlet glacier and outside the icecap to Holuhraun lava field where the small fissure eruption is now taking place.
Prior to the eruption, large fractures and a depression were created in the lava field, as can clearly be seen in this video shot from the air by journalist, environmentalist and pilot Ómar Ragnarsson yesterday morning. The eruption can be watched live on a webcam established by Míla.
A surveillance flight by scientists onboard Icelandic Coast Guard aircraft TF-SIF is scheduled to take off at 09:30 am today.
Travelers should observe this map of the closed roads on the website of the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration.
The National Crisis Coordination Centre in Skógarhlíð, Reykjavík, remains open and active. A media unit is placed at the center, providing information and dealing with media requests (Email: [email protected]; Tel: +354-5702644/43).
The website on safe travel in Iceland is updated regularly.
The Iceland Review team will continue to follow the developments and post updates.