Volcano now spewing less ash

REYKJAVIK - The Icelandic volcano that grounded air traffic all over Europe is still erupting, but is spewing less ash, the meteorological office and experts said yesterday.

Close monitoring of the neighbouring and potentially more dangerous Katla volcano was also taking place, but there have been no signs it has reawakened.

"There is ongoing activity in the volcano and we don't see any signs of it coming to an end. There is less ash production. It is probably the same as yesterday," meteorological official Gudrun Nina Petersen told a news conference.

"The plume is very low, so most of the ash is falling here and keeping itself under 6000 metres."

The volcano under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier, about 120km southeast of the capital Reykjavik, has been erupting for almost a week. It began after a smaller eruption broke out in March, producing mainly lava. That eruption paused shortly before the new one began.

"The amount of ash that is being produced is much less, but it is more polluted," said Sigurdur Gislason of the Institute of Earth Sciences, though he said this ash would mainly be a problem for the near vicinity of the volcano.

He said the main concern about the ash was high levels of fluoride, which could poison livestock for the farmers who live at the foot of the mountain which is topped by the glacier.

Pall Einarsson, also of the Institute of Earth Sciences, said the eruption was not losing force, though its explosivity, which had earlier pushed the plume of ash to levels of 6km or more, had decreased. He said the Katla volcano, which last had a major eruption in 1918, was being closely monitored. - Reuters