No activity at Iceland volcano, eruption could be over

Iceland's Eyjafjoell volcano is no longer in activity, a geophysicist said Sunday, raising hopes the eruption which has heavily disrupted European flights for more than a month could be over.

"What I can confirm is that the activity of the crater has stopped. No magma is coming up" Magnus Gudmundsson of Iceland University told AFP.

"The eruption, at least for the time being, has stopped. Now there is only steam coming out of the crater," he said, cautioning however that "it is too early to tell whether this is the end of the eruption or just a temporary stop in activity."

Experts would be monitoring the volcano, which began eruption on April 14, very closely in the days and weeks to come.

"I would say if there are no new earthquakes and no new outburst, then that would suggest that it is over," Gudmundsson said, adding that it could take a very long time before it would be possible to say for sure.

"If you call me in one year's time, I could be pretty certain," he said, pointing out that the previous eruption at the volcano lasted 13 months, from 1821-23.

"It stopped and started again several times with different intervals, so it's difficult to say, difficult to give a timeline," he said.

The latest eruption at Eyjafjoell also began just a day after a more peaceful eruption ended on the Fimmvurduhals flank of the same volcano.

Experts have cautioned that once the current eruption halted, a new blast in another crater or in the neighbouring and much larger and fiercer Katla volcano might follow.

When or if that will happen is also, according to Gudmundsson, "impossible to say."

In recent days, experts had said the activity at the Eyjafjoell volcano, which peaked for a third time just over a week ago, had slowed significantly.

Gudmundsson however said it was difficult to tell exactly when the activity had stopped.

"The flow of magma was very small yesterday, but it was still erupting at 5:00 to 6:00 pm (1700-1800 GMT). Ash was falling to the west of the volcano," he said, adding that "there has not been any eruption since at least this morning."

During Eyjafjoell's highest activity peak in the week after it began erupting, it released ash enough to cause the biggest aerial shutdown in Europe since World War II, affecting more than 100,000 flights and eight million passengers.

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