The smoke from the eruption can be seen from many places in south Iceland, Iceland’s television channel RUV said in a report.
Iceland’s Meteorological Office also confirmed that an eruption had begun in Grimsvotn.
“All indications are that an eruption will start in this area,” Icelandic geologist Hjorleifur Sveinbjornsson was quoted as saying earlier on Saturday by the local media.
But scientists in Iceland believed that the new eruption in Grimsvotn could be small and would not lead to a repeat of the air travel chaos in Europe one year ago, which was caused by ashes from the Eyjafjallajokul volcano’s eruption.
Located in the middle of the Vatnajokull glacier, Grimsvotn is the most active volcano in Iceland, with major eruptions recorded in 1922, 1933, 1934, 1938, 1945, 1954, 1983, 1998 and 2004. Most of the eruptions lasted one to three weeks.
Eruption has started in Grímsvötn
An eruption began at Grímsvötn volcano at approximately 17:30 UTC, May 21st 2011.
Eruptions in Grímsvötn start as subglacial eruptions, which quickly break the ice cover. At 21:00 UTC, the eruption plume had risen to an altitude of over 65,000 ft (~20 km). Initially, the plume is expected to drift to the east and subsequently to the north. Thus, the ash is not expected to impact aviation in Europe, at least not during the first 24 hours.
The figure on the right (above) shows an image of the eruption cloud at 22:00 UTC. The image is from the Icelandic Met Office weather radar located at Keflavik International Airport, at 220 km distance from the volcano. The cloud extends above a large part of Vatnajökull ice cap. The line marks the approximate location of Grímsvötn volcano.
The last eruption in Grímsvötn occurred in November 2004. Grímsvötn is Iceland’s most frequently erupting volcano.
The figure below shows tremor activity in Grímsvötn associated with the eruption. Note that seismic activity increases after 17:30 UTC.