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Volcanic eruption in Iceland triggers CODE RED aviation warning

Lava-spitting Bárðarbunga prompts action from Met Office

A fresh volcanic eruption in Iceland forced officials at the country's Met Office to temporarily issue a code red aviation warning, after lava spewed 50 metres into the air in the early hours of Sunday morning.

While fewer earthquakes were recorded when the eruption started in Holuhraun shortly after 4am, more lava was being ejected from the volcanic fissure, said experts who were monitoring the area in difficult weather conditions.

Around 500 earthquakes have hit the Bárðarbunga volcanic system in the past fortnight, prompting fears of a repeat of 2010, when flights were grounded after Iceland's Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupted and spurted ash into the air.

Iceland's Met Office said earlier today:

It appears that the eruptive fissure is longer than in the last eruption. It is extending north and south on the same fissure. The eruption is a very calm lava eruption and can hardly be seen on seismometers.

Officials added: "Visual observation confirm it is calm, but continuous."

In the Met Office's most recent update, the aviation colour code was shifted back to orange for Bárðarbunga, after a meteorologist reported that no ash had been detected.

Iceland's Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management confirmed within the last hour that flights were now operating normally over the affected area, because recent observations found a steady eruption "without any explosive component."

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