Volcano in Iceland prompts fears of eruptions under glaciers - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Volcano in Iceland prompts fears of eruptions under glaciers

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ICELAND (CBS) - A volcano at Eyjafjallajoekull in south-central Iceland continues erupting, raising fears among Icelanders of eruptions under glaciers, which would present a danger of flooding from melt-water.

The location of the eruption, between the Eyjafjallajoekull and Myrdalsjoekull glaciers at a height over 3500 feet, means that there is little likelihood of flooding as long as the erupting fissure doesn't move under the glacier.

The area, called Fimmvorduhals, is a popular walking path lying over the mountain pass.

Bad weather had hindered close filming until this morning, but it appears that the erupting fissure is over 1500 feet long.

Almost all of the 600 people who were evacuated early Sunday morning have been allowed to return to their homes, and only inhabitants of 14 farms are still obliged to stay away. There have been no injuries or damage to property so far.

There are no immediate signs that the eruption in Eyjafjallajokull has caused any changes in the much more powerful Katla, some 12 miles to the east of the present eruption. Katla is beneath Myrdalsjoekull and an eruption there would cause widespread flooding from the melting of glacier ice.

Historically eruptions in Eyjafjallajoekull have triggered eruptions in Katla. A major eruption could release a large amount of sulphur dioxide and volcanic ash into the atmosphere, which would have consequences for air traffic across the Atlantic.

The last eruption in Katla was in 1918, and the volcano typically erupts around every 50 - 80 years so one is overdue.

Iceland sits on a volcanic hotspot in the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and has relatively frequent eruptions. Most occur in sparsely populated areas and pose little danger to people or property.

However an eruption in the Vestman Islands off the south coast of Iceland in 1973 buried a third of the town of 5,500 people under lava and ash.

The last eruption in Iceland took place in 2004.

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