This Icelandic volcano erupted: what impact on air flights?

The Grindavik area in Iceland is experiencing a significant volcanic eruption from December 18, 2023. It was already foreshadowed by the November earthquake. The crack that quickly formed in the ground is 4 km long. The pictures are impressive. What is the impact on air traffic?

Seismic activity in volcanic regions is often a harbinger of an eruption. This is the case of Iceland, which is one of the main hotspots on Earth, because the country is located between the Eurasian and North American plates. At the beginning of November 2023, the Icelandic peninsula town of Grindavik was evacuated due to numerous earthquakes, although it is located near the volcano Fagradalsfjall, which has awakened in recent years. More than a month later, the eruption was triggered: magma has been flowing since the evening of Monday, December 18, 2023.

of videos show a volcanic eruption, also visible in several live broadcasts where we observe the volcano live. More distant residents also took pictures. The crack in the ground where most of the magma is coming from is currently 4 km long, according to the Icelandic Meteorological Office. It formed quickly, spewing 100 to 200 cubic meters per second – far more than previous local eruptions.

Video showing an Icelandic Coast Guard helicopter near a magma fracture. // Source: Icelandic Coast Guard (video)

The magmatic outpouring is still ongoing at this time: “ Seismic activity and GPS measurements indicate that magma is moving southwest and that the eruption may continue towards Grindavik “, the Icelandic Meteorological Office said on Monday. This Tuesday confirms: “ According to the latest aerial observations and seismicity, the eruption fissure is expanding towards the south. » However, the latest update also suggests that “ the level of seismicity at the site of the eruption has decreased “, the same ” the intensity of the rash has decreased “.

What effect does a volcanic eruption have on the airport?

We well remember the eruption of Eyjafjöll in 2010, which paralyzed part of the airspace. We should not expect equivalent effects for this rift caused by Fagradalsfjall in the immediate future. Even the international airport closest to the eruption, Reykjavík, is still open. On the other hand, several flights are delayed – on arrival and departure – for security reasons.

This was confirmed by Icelandic Foreign Minister Bjarni Benediktsson on a social network that no major disruption was expected: Flights to and from Iceland are not disrupted and international flight corridors remain open. »

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