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Volcanoes in Iceland Disrupt Flights

March 22, 2010 By: Jena Tesse Fox

Iceland has reportedly closed its two main airports in preparation for a more powerful volcano after an eruption over the weekend. Transatlantic flights have been re-routed to avoid the risk of ash blocking visibility and destroying engines following the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull volcano, which is 74 miles southeast of Reykjavik. 500 people have been evacuated from the local area.

It was initially feared that the volcano had erupted directly underneath the Eyjafjallajokull glacier, which could have led to glacial melt, flooding and mudslides. It is now believed that the volcano blew in between Eyjafjallajokull and the larger Myrdalsjoekull glacier.

Experts fear, however, that the small volcano will spark the far more powerful volcano of Katla beneath Myrdalsjoekull.

Iceland is built on a volcanic rock on the Atlantic’s mid-oceanic ridge. The island’s worst eruption in modern times was in 1783, when the Laki volcano erupted, causing a famine that killed a quarter of the island’s population.

Dr. Dave McGarvie, senior lecturer at the Volcano Dynamics Group of the Open University, told The Times that Eyjafjallajokull has erupted three times in the past thousand years: 920 AD, 1612 and between 1821 and 1823. "Each time it set off Katla,” he said. The likelihood of Katla blowing could become clear “in a few weeks or a few months.”


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