Updates below (22nd May)
Large Icelandic volcano Grimsvötn began erupting today at ~19:00 local time (18:00 GMT). I guess we’ll get a better picture of the scale of the eruption tomorrow. The earthquake map of the area shows the moment the eruption occurred.
If it is a big eruption the timing isn’t great for those European early summer breaks, but in the other hand it might suit some who can associate it with the beginning of the end.
Today is supposed to be the beginning of Judgement Day with the world ending, consumed in fire, on 21st October 2011. Of course the eruption was also ‘predicted’ by science. Not so much the exact day, obviously, but it was thought to be ‘due’, based on the cumulative seismic moment, a direct measure of seismic strain.
With a recent intense period of travel behind me, I get to follow this one without worrying about flight disruption.
Update (22nd May)
It seems the experts think this will be bigger than the last Grimsvotn eruption in 2004, but not cause a repeat of last year’s problems.
According to the BBC Website, it is unlikely to be as disruptive as Eyjafjallajokull:
Pall Einarsson, a geophysicist at the University of Iceland, said the 2010 eruption was a rare event.
“The ash in Eyjafjallajokull was persistent or unremitting and fine-grained,” he said.
“The ash in Grimsvotn is more coarse and not as likely to cause danger as it falls to the ground faster and doesn’t stay as long in the air as in the Eyjafjallajokull eruption.”
Erik Klemetti’s blog “Eruptions” (source now corrected) has good pages following it.
Update #2 (22nd May 3pm)
The Icelandic Met office posted (yesterday) a pdf Seismic Activity at Volcanoes in Vatnajökull Ice Cap which summarises the recent increasing activity the system to which Grimsvötn belongs.
Seismic activity at volcanoes in Vatnajökull ice cap has been increasing over the last 5 years; Grímsvötn, Hamarinn (Loki ridge), Bárdarbunga, Kistufell, Kverkfjöll and Esjufjöll
One of the most striking images is this one:
The no fly zone and ash cloud are small so far, but volcanic ash cloud predictions from the Met Office are here.