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Icelandic volcano eruption 'ending'
Activity that caused European airspace's costly shutdown may be over, experts say.
Last Modified: 24 May 2010 15:32 GMT
Volcanic eruptions hurled ash and debris into the sky, threatening European airspace [Reuters]

An Icelandic volcano that caused major havoc to global air traffic after erupting last month is showing signs of dying down, officials say.

Scientists said on Monday that there was little activity at the Eyjafjallajokul volcano, but warned it was too early to say whether the eruption was entirely over.

"The eruption, at least for the time being, has stopped. Now there is only steam coming out of the crater," Magnus Gudmundsson of Iceland University told the AFP news agency.

"It is too early to tell whether this is the end of the eruption or just a temporary stop in activity."

On Sunday a report by Iceland's Meteorological Office and University of Iceland scientists classed the eruption as "dormant".

Monitoring planned

Experts are expected to closely monitor the volcano, which began erupting on April 14, very closely in the days and weeks to come.

Danger to airliners from the volcanic ash plume led most northern European countries to shut their airspace April 15-20, grounding an estimated 10 million travellers worldwide.

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Volcano chaos

Smaller-scale disruptions have continued since then, as the volcano produced more ash.

Experts have cautioned that once the current eruption halted, a new blast in another crater or in the neighbouring and much larger and fiercer Katla volcano might follow.

When or if that will happen is also, according to Gudmundsson, "impossible to say."

In recent days, experts had said the activity at Eyjafjallajokul, which peaked for a third time just over a week ago, had slowed significantly.

Gudmundsson however said it was difficult to tell exactly when the activity had stopped.

"The flow of magma was very small yesterday, but it was still erupting at 5:00 to 6:00 pm (1700-1800 GMT). Ash was falling to the west of the volcano," he said.

The last time the volcano awoke, in 1821, it erupted on and off for almost two years.

Source:
Agencies
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