Iceland raised its alert warning level to maximum on Friday after what it called a small eruption in the Bardarbunga volcano system but said there was no sign of ash that could affect air travel in Europe. Reykjavik's Meteorological Office said that a fissure eruption began in a lava field north of the Vatnajokull glacier, which covers part of Bardarbunga system, just after midnight local time. The risk of an ash cloud is highest in case of a sub-glacial eruption.
"The Icelandic Met Office has raised the aviation color code over the eruption site to red and the Icelandic Air Traffic Control has closed down the air space from the earth up to 18,000 feet," the National Crisis Coordination Center said in a statement. Red is the highest alert level on a five-color scale and indicates that an eruption is imminent or under way, with a risk of ash.
"No volcanic ash has been detected with the radar system at the moment....Seismic eruption tremor is low indicating effusive eruption without significant explosive activity," the crisis center said. In 2010, an ash cloud from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano, in a different region of Iceland, closed much of Europe's air space for six days.