Another Icelandic volcano blots out the sky

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Last Saturday, the Icelandic volcano Grimsvotn stirred from its slumber and shot out a 7-miles plume of gas and ash. A massive airport shutdown shouldn't happen this time around, but the view from the ground is certainly dramatic.

This was the largest eruption in 100 years for Grimsvotn, which sits 120 miles from Reykjavik and under the Vatnajokull glacier. The last time it erupted was 2004, and this weekend its falling ash offered zero visibility for those on the ground.

Unlike the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull last year, Grimsvotn shouldn't totally ground air traffic. Said University of Iceland geophysicist Pall Einarsson to AP:

It is not likely to be anything on the scale that was produced last year when the Eyjafjallajokull volcano erupted [...] That was an unusual volcano, an unusual ash size distribution and unusual weather pattern, which all conspired together to make life difficult in Europe.


Planes within Iceland weren't flying this weekend, but transatlantic flights shouldn't be affected. Nonetheless, these photos by Vilhelm Gunnarsson of the Icelandic news agency Visir are jarring. He captured ash raining down on the nearby town of Kirkjubæjarklaustur, transforming reality into a Sigur Rós video.


And here's a video of Grimsvotn's eruption from Russia Today. Discover also has some fascinating animations of the volcanic plume from space.