The Icelandic volcano Grimsvotn erupted and flung ash, smoke and steam miles into the air on Sunday.
The country’s main airport was shut down and pilots were warned to steer away from Iceland as areas near the volcano were pushed into darkness. Scientists have said that the Iceland airport won’t be closed for too long in part because the ash from this eruption is coarse and is therefore falling to the Earth quickly.
The volcano, which lies beneath the ice of the Vatnajokull glacier in southeast Iceland, began erupting on Saturday for the first time since 2004. This eruption was the largest this volcano has had for 100 years.
The ash from Grimsvotn turned Iceland’s sky black on Sunday and rained down on nearby buildings, cars, and fields. Civil protection workers helped farmers get their animals into safe havens, and advised civilians to wear masks and stay in their homes.
Scientists have said that this eruption won’t have nearly the same global impact last year’s eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano had. Last year’s eruption left 10 million travelers stranded around the world. University of Iceland geophysicist Pall Einarsson told the Associated Press, “That was an unusual volcano, an unusual ash size distribution and unusual weather pattern, which all conspired together to make life difficult in Europe.”
Britain’s Meteorological Office, which runs Europe’s Volcanic Ash Advisory Center, said the plume from the volcano would spread mostly northeast until Monday, but some ash will creep south and east as well. Where it goes after that depends on the intensity of the eruption and weather patterns. If the eruption continues as it is, the United Kingdom might be at risk of seeing some volcanic ash at the end of this week, but in two or three days, scientists have said the worst should be over.