Iceland raises volcano aviation alert briefly

REYKJAVIK, Iceland (AP) -- Icelandic authorities briefly raised the aviation warning code to red Friday after a small fissure eruption near Bardarbunga volcano, but no volcanic ash was detected by the radar system.

The eruption took place the Holuhraun lava field, five kilometers (three miles) north of Dyngjujoekull glacier, Iceland's Meteorological Office said. The event was described as being not highly explosive -- and thus not producing much of the fine ash that can affect aircraft engines.

The eruption began just after midnight local time (0000 GMT Friday; 2000 EDT Thursday) and ended at 0400 GMT Friday (midnight EDT Thursday).

The airspace was closed three nautical miles around the eruption area up to 5,000 feet (1,524 meters) -- meaning it did not affect commercial flights flying over Iceland. The aviation code for Bardarbunga was originally raised to red -- meaning that an eruption was underway -- but was lowered to the lesser orange level as there was no significant ash production, the Civil Protection Department said.

The so-called fissure eruption was a crack that opened up above a magma intrusion. It didn't produce any significant ash.

The eruption raised concerns because of one in 2010, when Iceland's Eyjafjallajoekull volcano erupted and sparked a week of international aviation chaos. Thousands of flights were canceled when aviation officials closed Europe's air space for five days, fearing that volcanic ash could harm jet engines.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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