A volcano in Iceland has started rumbling, threatening to spew havoc-wreaking ash into the air, which has prompted the country to close airspace over the mountain. The volcano actually erupted Saturday, but because it is buried under glacier ice, experts expect the ash to burst through the ice within the next day or so, though it is possible that the magma may never melt through the ice. If it does, authorities want to be prepared in order to avoid the same kind of chaos that surrounded the 2010 volcano, which disrupted aviation for a week.
Fortunately, the Bárðarbunga volcano is in a remote area and the country is well-practiced in emergency procedures since it resides in a volcanically-active area, so injuries are unlikely. Nonetheless, erupting ash can cause all kinds of trouble for air travel, from visibility issues to mucking up jet parts. When Eyjafjallajokul erupted in 2010, more than 100,000 flights were cancelled, leaving millions stranded.
Thousands of earthquakes have shook the volcano over the past week and Iceland’s Meteorological Office has been tracking the quakes and subsequent eruption closely. To prevent problems, the country issues a red alert, limiting aviation from within 100 by 140 nautical miles of the volcano.