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Eyjafjallajökull news for 4 May 2010: more ash, more flight bans 4 May 2010

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The Icelandic Meteorological Office publishes regular bulletins on the activity at Eyjafjallajökull both in summary form and as more detailed PDF documents (linked from the summaries). Today’s bulletin (PDF here) reports as follows:

  • ash plume height observed at 5.8-6.0 km a.s.l. tracking ESE to SE from the eruption site, dark grey in colour
  • ashfall reported 65-80 km ESE of Eyjafjallajökull: ‘people could hardly see next farms’
  • meltwater levels slightly decreasing
  • explosive activity and ash production strong, increasing since 3 May
  • lava flowing northwards and descending slope about 4 km north of the crater, lava front marked by white steam plumes
  • eruptive crater size estimated at 280 x 190 m, cone being built up at crater
  • tremor levels have decreased to levels similar to those of 18 April
  • several earthquakes detected beneath Eyjafjallajökull, originating deep within crust (14-20 km depth)
  • no measurable geophysical changes in Katla volcano

Overall, ‘More explosive activity and ash production than was observed yesterday. Progression of the lava seems to be slower than yesterday. Presently there are no indications that the eruption is about to end’.

Further airspace closures over the British Isles will take effect tomorrow because of the continuing presence of dangerous levels of volcanic ash from Eyjafjallajökull (click here for London VAAC ash advisory issued at 18:30Z today, in graphic form). At present the closures are planned to affect Scotland and Northern Ireland, but as the ash moves east and south other parts of Britain may be affected.

For all our Eyjafjallajökull coverage: Eyjafjöll « The Volcanism Blog.

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Eyjafjöll – summary information for Eyjafjallajökull, which the GVP calls Eyjafjöll (1702-02=)
Icelandic Meteorological Office – bulletins on Eyjafjallajökull activity
Data for Eyjafjallajökull/Myrdalsjökull – a range of near-real-time data from sensors on and around Eyjafjallajökull: tremor, seismicity, deformation, webcam images etc., from the Iceland Met Office

The Volcanism Blog

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Eyjafjallajökull: no end in sight 4 May 2010

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Yesterday the Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO) issued a bulletin (PDF) on the eruption at Eyjafjallajökull which reported that ‘there are no indications that the eruption is about to end’.

Eyjafjallajokull 4 May 2010 10:49 GMT

The image above comes from the Vodafone Þórólfsfell webcam, captured at 10:49 GMT today (original image here), and shows Eyjafjallajökull erupting a fairly vigorous steam-and-ash plume from its main vent. Steam plumes can be seen rising from the gully where lava is interacting with meltwater as it descends the slope. The main ash plume has been varying in height (the IMO bulletin and VAAC reports indicate up to around 5.5 km altitude) and density yesterday and today; on occasion the cameras have shown a very black plume indeed. Tremor has reduced since the IMO issued its bulletin, but there have been more earthquakes under Eyjafjallajökull over the last 24 hours, some shallow (1.1-2.2 km) but some very deep: between around 21:00 yesterday and 01:00 today there were four quakes of magnitudes between 1.4 and 1.8, at depths varying from 13.0 to 21.6 km. There also appears to be a north-south alignment to recent earthquake activity:

Eyjafjallajokull earthquakes 4 May 2010 12:55 GMT

The very deep earthquakes could represent magma moving at depth, or subsidence of magma chambers which have been emptied by the eruption; the IMO bulletin reports deformation measurements which indicate continued subsidence at Eyjafjallajökull. Time will tell what implications this has for the future development of the eruption.

Erik Klemetti has more on the IMO Eyjafjallajökull bulletin at Eruptions.

For all our Eyjafjallajökull coverage: Eyjafjöll « The Volcanism Blog.

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Eyjafjöll – summary information for Eyjafjallajökull, which the GVP calls Eyjafjöll (1702-02=)
Icelandic Meteorological Office – bulletins on Eyjafjallajökull activity
Data for Eyjafjallajökull/Myrdalsjökull – a range of near-real-time data from sensors on and around Eyjafjallajökull: tremor, seismicity, deformation, webcam images etc., from the Iceland Met Office

The Volcanism Blog

Ireland closes airspace as Icelandic volcanic ash returns (updated) 3 May 2010

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The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) has re-imposed a total flight ban on Ireland’s airspace for a six-hour period tomorrow because of the hazard presented by airborne ash from the Eyjafjallajökull eruption in Iceland. All flights into and out of Irish airports will be banned from 06:00 to 12:00 GMT on 4 May 2010, although overflights of Ireland from the UK and Europe will not be affected. The IAA statement on the closure is here: IAA forced to restrict flights in Irish airports.

In the United Kingdom there is a possibility that Scottish airspace may be affected as the ash moves eastwards, although the UK authorities are currently waiting for further Met Office and VAAC reports on the nature and movement of the ash cloud. This cloud is denser than the plume which caused all the problems last month, but smaller in extent, so it may be easier for aircraft to re-route around it.

The latest volcanic ash advisory (in graphic PNG form) from London VAAC (archive here) reports Eyjafjallajökull plumes reaching FL180 (18,000 feet / 5,500 metres altitude) this afternoon, but no significant ash above FL200 (20,000 feet / 6,000 metres altitude).

UPDATE 4 May 2010. Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland airspace has re-opened, but in Scotland airports in the Outer Hebrides will remain closed until later this afternoon (source: BBC).

For all our Eyjafjallajökull coverage: Eyjafjöll « The Volcanism Blog.

News
Flight disruption threat as new ash cloud approachesDaily Telegraph, 3 May 2010
Volcanic ash alert for Western Isles flights – BBC News, 3 May 2010
Ireland to re-impose flight bans due to volcanic ash – BBC News, 3 May 2010
Volcanic cloud shuts down Irish airspaceDaily Telegraph, 3 May 2010
Ireland to ground all flights on Tuesday morningThe Guardian, 3 May 2010

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Eyjafjöll – summary information for Eyjafjallajökull, which the GVP calls Eyjafjöll (1702-02=)
Data for Eyjafjallajökull/Myrdalsjökull – a range of near-real-time data from sensors on and around Eyjafjallajökull: tremor, seismicity, deformation, webcam images etc., from the Iceland Met Office

The Volcanism Blog

Eyjafjallajökull serves up plenty of tremor, and flight ban blame game continues 3 May 2010

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The Eyjafjallajökull eruption has been at a constant and fairly low level of activity over the past few days: strombolian activity at the vent and lava flows descending the flanks, some steam from lava-water interaction, and occasional ashfall south of the volcano. However, tremor has been rising markedly since yesterday, indicating that magma movement is under way. This could produce an upsurge in activity (and perhaps more explosivity and ash production), or it could fade away and have no effect on what happens at ground level at all. It’s notable that the incidence of earthquakes, as distinct from tremor, is currently at a low level around Eyjafjallajökull, suggesting that whatever the magma may be doing at depth it is not yet making its way to the surface. Worth watching carefully, anyway – and of course that is precisely what the experts in Iceland and elsewhere are doing.

Meanwhile, changing wind patterns are raising fears that the ash cloud currently lying to the west of the British Isles may be pushed back towards Britain’s coasts. The blame game over the ash-related airline disruption continues, with the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority telling the BBC that it’s the fault of the engine manufacturers that the flight ban lasted so long: the manufacturers, afraid of the commercial consequences of deciding what level of ash (and thus, in effect, what level of potential engine damage) was acceptable, dragged their feet over determining a new and more flexible standard. And in a new outbreak of nonsense at The Guardian, Peter Singer ruminates that ‘the greatest risks by far [in flying into a known volcanic ash hazard] are borne by the passengers and crew. If they are fully informed of the risks, and are still willing to fly – perhaps the crew has been offered more money, as workers in dangerous occupations often are – should we prevent them from making the decision to fly?’ Presumably there would be some kind of vote taken at the terminal in advance of each departure, with flight crews – steely glints in their eyes, extra cash in their pockets – standing ready to take the daring and the dauntless into the sky.

For all our Eyjafjallajökull coverage: Eyjafjöll « The Volcanism Blog.

News
Iceland volcano rumbles on, life does tooIceNews, 1 May 2010
There is a limit to the price of safetyThe Guardian, 2 May 2010
Fresh volcano ash cloud prompts fears for hospital patientsAberdeen Press & Journal, 3 May 2010
Volcano ash flight ban ‘might have ended sooner’ – BBC News, 3 May 2010

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Eyjafjöll – summary information for Eyjafjallajökull, which the GVP calls Eyjafjöll (1702-02=)
Data for Eyjafjallajökull/Myrdalsjökull – a range of near-real-time data from sensors on and around Eyjafjallajökull: tremor, seismicity, deformation, webcam images etc., from the Iceland Met Office

The Volcanism Blog

Llaima: increase in seismic activity leads to increased alert level 27 April 2010

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Chilean state geological service SERNAGEOMIN announced on 25 April that the alert level for Llaima is being raised from Yellow Level 3 to Yellow Level 4 because of ‘the occurrence of earthquakes with high energy levels and tremor signals with durations of up to 20 minutes’. OVDAS volcanologist Gustavo Fuentealba is quoted in El Mercurio as warning that the crater of Llaima remains obstructed (as confirmed in ONEMI’s bulletin of 25 April, which reports the findings of an overflight of the volcano), and that this ‘increases the risk of a new eruption’. There is no change in the appearance of the volcano; fumarolic activity continues from the summit crater.

[Thanks to regular reader Guillermo for information about Llaima.]

For all our Llaima coverage: Llaima « The Volcanism Blog.

News
Alarma por alerta amarilla en el volcán LlaimaLa Nación, 24 April 2010
En alerta amarilla cinco comunas adyacentes al volcán LlaimaEl Mercurio, 25 April 2010
Onemi decretó alerta amarilla por actividad en el volcán Llaima – Cooperativa.cl, 26 April 2010

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Llaima – summary information for Llaima (1507-11=)
Oficina Nacional de Emergencia – Chilean government emergencies office
SERNAGEOMIN – Servicio Nacional de Geología y Minería, Chile
Proyecto Observación Visual Volcán Llaima – Llaima Visual Observation Project

The Volcanism Blog

Continuing Gaua activity at the NASA Earth Observatory 27 April 2010

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Eruption of Gaua Volcano, 24 April 2010 (NASA ALI/EO-1 image)

As reported here last week, activity is continuing at Gaua volcano in Vanuatu, with the government planning for evacuations of Gaua Island. The NASA Earth Observatory has been providing some excellent satellite imagery of Gaua, most recently the above image, captured on 24 April 2010 by the Advanced Land Imager aboard NASA’s Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite. The brown areas on the left of the image, to the west and south-west of the volcano, show where volcanic emissions and ashfall have damaged and killed vegetation.

The world is paying little attention to the activity at Gaua, but it is shaping up to be a very nasty, hazardous and disruptive eruption. Ashfall, poisonous gases, volcanic bombs and mudflows are being produced by the active cone, Mount Garet, and emissions are tainting local crops and water supplies. Rising water levels in the crater have been reported, increasing the risk of still more dangerous mudflows. The population of Gaua has already had to abandon the western side of the island and seek refuge in the east, away from the worst of the volcano’s ash and fumes, but as the activity increases they may have to evacuate completely. Radio Australia News quotes Vanuatu Geohazards Technical Advisor: ‘The current risk is mainly ash falls and then mudflows. It’s true that we have an increase in activity but not like a level 3. Evacuation is ready the plan is ready the location is ready, it’s a very tough situation for the local population of Gaua, they’re scared they’re afraid, it’s a very new situation for them’.

The alert level for Gaua is still at level 2, according to the Vanuatu Geohazards Observatory.

For all our coverage of Gaua: Gaua « The Volcanism Blog.

News
Vanuatu volcano may force evacuationsSydney Morning Herald, 20 April 2010
Vanuatu volcano taints water suppliesSydney Morning Herald, 21 April 2010
Vanuatu authorities monitor Gaua volcano – Radio Australia News, 23 April 2010
South Seas volcano threatens thousands – Earthweek, 23 April 2010

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Gaua – summary information for Gaua (0507-02=)
Vanuatu volcanoes and volcanics – information from the USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory
Vanuatu Geohazards Observatory – home page for geohazards monitoring in Vanuatu

The Volcanism Blog

Guatemala: explosive eruption at Santiaguito 27 April 2010

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The Santiaguito lava dome complex at Guatemala’s Santa María volcano erupted yesterday, producing four explosions between approximately 18:50 and 20:00 local time and throwing an ash-laden plume up to altitudes of between 7.3 and 8.5 km. The Instituto Nacional de Sismología, Vulcanología, Meteorología e Hidrología (Insivumeh) described two of the explosions as ‘strong’ and the other two as ‘moderate to strong’ in intensity. Guatemalan newspaper El Periódico reports that ash reached 8.5 km above sea level, while Washington VAAC gives the altitude as FL 240 (24,000 feet / 7.3 km) in a volcanic ash advisory issued at 14:44 GMT on 26 April (later advisories issued at 15:15 GMT and 17:43 GMT say that some ash was reported at FL280 (28,000 feet / 8.5 km) and FL300 (30,000 feet / 9.1 km).

According to an Insivumeh volcanologist quoted by El Periódico, people in local communities were alarmed by small earthquakes during the eruption, and ashfall created visibility problems on nearby roads. Local people had noticed rumblings from the volcano during the night of 25 April, reports El Quetzalteco. The districts of Quetzaltenango, Totonicapán, San Marcos, Huehuetenango, Suchitepéquez, Retalhuleu and Sololá have been affected by ashfall, and classes in local schools have been suspended. Largely because of the ashfall hazard, Guatemala’s state emergencies agency, the Coordinadora Nacional para la Reducción de Desastres (Conred), has raised the alert level at Santiaguito to Orange (Naranja).

Research Note. For expert insight into ever-active Santiaguito, check out Jessica Ball’s richly-illustrated reports at Magma Cum Laude: Santiaguito Volcano Observatory (19 March 2010), Looking backward: Past eruptions at Volcán Santa Maria (15 March 2010), Santiaguito lava dome complex (27 March 2009), Lava domes, coffee, and a little bit of shaking (20 March 2009). Santiaguito is the focus of Jessica’s work on lava domes. Highly recommended.

News
El volcán Santiaguito hace declarar alerta naranjaEl Periódico de Guatemala, 26 April 2010
Alerta Naranja por ceniza de volcán – El Quetzalteco, 27 April 2010
Declaran en Guatemala alerta naranja por erupción de volcán Santiaguito – ABC, 27 April 2010
Volcano spews sand, ash over GuatemalaSydney Morning Herald, 27 April 2010

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Santa María – summary information for Santa María (1402-03=)
Instituto Nacional de Sismologia, Vulcanología, Meteorología e Hidrologia – main page for Guatemala’s volcanological authority

The Volcanism Blog

Less ash, more lava: Eyjafjallajökull changing its style? 20 April 2010

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Eyjafjallajokull from the Hvolsvelli webcam, 20 April 2010
Eyjafjallajökull from the Hvolsvelli webcam, 20 April 2010 at 08:20 GMT.

Yesterday the Icelandic Met Office (IMO) bulletin on Eyjafjallajökull reported that seismic signals indicated that lava flow might be beginning and that the ash-producing phase of the eruption was coming to an end. A change in eruptive style from ash-producing to lava-producing could be under way, Icelandic scientists have suggested.

However, reports of ‘a new ash cloud heading into British airspace’ have meant that plans for a partial resumption of flights from UK airports have been scaled back. The latest Volcanic Ash Advisory from London VAAC, issued at 0600Z today, reports that the eruption plume is reaching 4000 m altitude and lava is visible in the crater, and remarks that there is no significant ash above FL350 (35,000 feet/10,600 metres altitude), and that from 1800Z this evening no significant ash is forecast above FL200 (20,000 feet/6,000 metres altitude). The accompanying maps show a very wide distribution of ash across European and North Atlantic airspace. It’s clear that no easing of the flight bans affecting much of Europe can be expected before this evening at the earliest.

The latest statement from UK air traffic authority NATS, released this morning, is as follows:

The situation regarding the volcanic eruption in Iceland remains dynamic and the latest information from the Met Office shows that the situation today will continue to be variable.

Based on the latest Met Office information, part of Scottish airspace including Aberdeen, Inverness and Edinburgh airports will continue to be available from 1300-1900 today, and also south to Newcastle Airport. Restrictions will remain in place over the rest of UK airspace below 20,000ft.

Overnight the CAA, in line with new guidance from the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) decided flights above the ash cloud will be permitted in the UK; between 1300-1900 this will enable aircraft movements above 20,000ft in UK airspace.

The continuing restrictions on air traffic are highly disruptive and very expensive, and unsurprisingly there are increasing calls for a more ‘measured’ approach, particularly from the affected airlines. Dr Klemetti has more on this at Eruptions, and Chris Rowan has some relevant observations at Highly Allocthonous.

For all our Eyjafjallajökull coverage: Eyjafjöll « The Volcanism Blog.

News
A more measured reaction to the ashFinancial Times, 19 April 2010
Iceland volcano emits more lava, less ash – Reuters, 20 April 2010
Icelandic volcano ash cloud lower, eruption steady – Reuters, 20 April 2010
New surge of ash from Eyjafjallajokull volcanoThe Times, 20 April 2010
Iceland volcano: latest travel newsDaily Telegraph, 20 April 2010
All quiet on the volcano front: Icelandic volcano still activeIceland Review Online, 20 April 2010
The cost of Europe’s volcanic ash travel crisisTime, 20 April 2010

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Eyjafjöll – summary information for Eyjafjallajökull, which the GVP calls Eyjafjöll (1702-02=)
Met Office: Icelandic volcano eruption – information and updates from the UK Met Office

The Volcanism Blog

Evacuations planned in Vanuatu as Gaua activity steps up 19 April 2010

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Gaua volcano, Vanuatu, 12 April 2010 (NASA Terra MODIS image)
Gaua volcano, Vanuatu: a MODIS image from the NASA Terra satellite, 12 April 2010 (source: NASA Earth Observatory, 15 April 2010).

Gaua volcano in northern Vanuatu has been showing signs of increased activity for some months: in November 2009 there were evacuations of villagers from Gaua island because of ashfall and gas emissions. During January 2010 ash emissions became denser and darker, and gas emissions increased. Strombolian activity and explosions were reported at the end of January. From late March into April ash plumes were reported daily, reaching altitudes of up to 3 km, and reports of explosions, ash fall and the ejection of volcanic bombs continued.

Gaua volcano, Vanuatu, 14 February 2010 (NASA EO-1 ALI image)
The Mount Garet cone of Gaua volcano erupting on 14 February 2010, captured by the Advanced Land Imager aboard NASA’s Earth Observing-1 satellite. The crescent-shaped body of water is Lake Letas, which partially fills the Gaua caldera (source: NASA Earth Observatory, 18 February 2010).

Today news sources are reporting that extensive evacuations are being planned, involving the transfer of about 2700 people from Gaua or Santa Maria Island to a relocation centre on nearby Vanualava Island. According to Peter Korisa of the Vanuatu Government emergencies office the volcano’s activity is not stable, but increasing: ‘Last year it was just some explosions and some ash falling but at the moment the activity is becoming more interesting’. The evacuation is not yet being carried out, but the necessary plans have been made. At the moment, Korisa says, ‘the situation doesn’t warrant any evacuation’, but the authorities are ready to act should such a step prove necessary.

The alert level for Gaua remains at its habitual level 2, according to the Vanuatu Geohazards Observatory.

UPDATE 20 April 2010. A reader has correctly pointed out that the previous headline for this post, ‘Evacuations in Vanuatu as Gaua activity steps up’, gave the impression that the evacuations are already under way. This is not the case, the evacuations are only at the planning stage, and I have changed the headline to reflect the situation accurately. Thanks, TJ, for the correction.

For all our coverage of Gaua: Gaua « The Volcanism Blog.

News
Vanuatu prepares evacuation from rumbling volcano – AFP, 19 April 2010
Vanuatu prepares evacuation amid threats of Gaua volcano – Radio New Zealand International, 19 April 2010

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Gaua – summary information for Gaua (0507-02=)
Vanuatu volcanoes and volcanics – information from the USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory

The Volcanism Blog

Iceland eruption: UK airspace closure extended (updated) 15 April 2010

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As a result of the ongoing Eyjafjallajökull-Fimmvörduháls eruption in southern Iceland the UK’s air traffic control organization NATS has extended the closure of United Kingdom airspace announced earlier today. NATS statement:

Statement on Icelandic volcanic eruption: Thurs April 15, 14:00

The cloud of volcanic ash is now spread across the UK and continuing to travel south. In line with international civil aviation policy, no flights other than agreed emergencies are currently permitted in UK controlled airspace. Following a review of the latest Met Office information, NATS advises that these restrictions will remain in place in UK controlled airspace until 0700 (UK time) tomorrow, Friday 16 April, at the earliest. We will review further Met Office information and at 2000 today (UK time) we will advise the arrangements that will be in place through to 1300 (UK time) tomorrow.

We continue to work closely with airports, airlines, and the rest of Europe to understand and mitigate the implications of the volcanic eruption.

As well as the total closure of UK airspace, the ash emissions from the Icelandic eruption are causing extensive disruption across the north Atlantic and northern Europe. The BBC has detailed and up-to-date coverage, and Dr Klemetti has more volcanological insights at the Eruptions blog: Threat of Icelandic ash closes airspace over Europe.

UPDATE – the latest statement from NATS is as follows:

Statement on Icelandic volcanic eruption: Thurs April 15, 20:20

The cloud of volcanic ash continues to cover much of the UK. Following a review of the latest Met Office information, NATS advises that restrictions will remain in place in UK controlled airspace until 1300 (UK time) tomorrow, Friday 16 April, at the earliest.

However, flights from Northern Ireland and the Western Isles of Scotland to and from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Prestwick may be allowed in the period from 0100 (UK time) to 1300 (UK time) tomorrow subject to individual co-ordination. North Atlantic traffic to and from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Prestwick and Belfast may also be allowed in the period.

We will review further Met Office information and at 0230 (UK time) tomorrow we will advise the arrangements that will be in place through to 1800 (UK time) tomorrow. However be aware that the situation cannot be said to be improving with any certainty as the forecast affected area appears to be closing in from east to west. We continue to work closely with airports, airlines, and the rest of Europe to understand and mitigate the implications of the volcanic eruption.

Also, there is news that volcanic ash is arriving in small quantities at ground level in the Shetlands and northern Scotland.

The Volcanism Blog