Iceland has raised its aviation warning level near the Bardarbunga volcano to red after an eruption began overnight.
Scientists said a fissure eruption 0.6 miles long started in a lava field north of the Vatnajokull glacier.
Civil protection officials said Icelandic Air Traffic Control had closed the airspace above the eruption up to a height of 5,000ft.
The volcano has been hit by several recent tremors.
The fissure eruption took place between Dyngjujokull Glacier and the Askja caldera, a statement from the Department of Civil Protection said.
Iceland has raised its aviation warning level near the Bardarbunga volcano to red after an eruption began overnight
The area is part of the Bardabunga system.
“Scientists who have been at work close to the eruption monitor the event at a safe distance,” the statement added.
“The Icelandic Met Office has raised the aviation colour code over the eruption site to red.”
It added that no volcanic ash had so far been detected but a coast guard aircraft was due to take off later to survey the site.
Until now the Icelandic Met Office has kept its aviation warning level – indicating the potential threat of volcanic activity to air travel – at orange, its second-highest.
On August, scientists said they were examining several “cauldrons” found near Bardarbunga volcano that could potentially be a sign of an eruption.
The cauldrons, depressions in the volcano’s surface, each between 49 ft deep and 0.6 miles wide, were seen during a flight on August 27.
Bardarbunga is part of a large volcano system hidden beneath the 1,600ft-thick Vatnajokull ice cap in central Iceland.
Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano erupted in 2010, producing ash that disrupted air travel across Europe.
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Iceland’s Bardarbunga volcano eruption sparked a red alert for the aviation industry, meaning significant ash emissions are likely.
Iceland’s meteorological office has warned that a small eruption under an ice cap has begun at Bardarbunga.
The air space over the site has been closed, but all Icelandic airports currently remain open, authorities say.
Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano erupted in 2010, producing an ash cloud that severely disrupted air travel.
The red alert is the highest warning on the country’s five-point scale.
A team of scientists was flying across the region on Saturday afternoon to monitor seismic activity.
Bardarbunga volcano eruption sparks red alert for aviation industry
“The eruption is considered a minor event at this point,” police said in a statement.
“Because of pressure from the glacier cap, it is uncertain whether the eruption will stay sub-glacial or not.”
Bardarbunga is part of a large volcano system hidden beneath the 0.31-mile thick Vatnajokull glacier in central Iceland.
Authorities have previously warned that any eruption in the volcano could result in flooding north of the glacier.
On Wednesday, authorities evacuated several hundred people from the area over fears of an eruption.
The region, located more than 190 miles from Iceland’s Reykjavik, has no permanent residents but sits within a national park popular with tourists.
The move came after geologists reported that about 300 earthquakes had been detected in the area since midnight on Tuesday.
The Eyjafjallajokull eruption in April 2010 caused the largest closure of European airspace since World War Two, with losses estimated at between 1.5 billion and 2.5 billion euros.
Criticism following the strictly enforced shutdown resulted in the CAA relaxing its rules to allow planes to fly in areas with a low density of volcanic ash.
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Icelandic lawmakers have put legislation on the table that would make NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden a citizen of the polar country.
Member of Iceland’s parliament Ögmundur Jónasson first made the proposition this morning, the last day before the 63-member legislative body begins their summer leave.
Granting citizenship to Edward Snowden, who admits to revealing key details of U.S. surveillance activities would circumvent the rule that he must be on Icelandic soil to apply for asylum there.
The same tactic helped get eccentric chess master Bobby Fischer to Iceland from Japan in 2005 to escape U.S. prosecution for breaking sanctions imposed on the former Yugoslavia, according to 21st Century Wire.
Ögmundur Jónasson, whose liberal Left-Green Party is backing the proposal along with the Pirate Party and Brighter Future Party, put the issue before the Judicial Affairs Committee, but the idea received minimal support.
“We wanted to do this earlier,” wrote Pirate Party politician Helgi Hrafn Gunnarsson on his Facebook page.
“But citizenship is an extremely delicate issue when it’s granted by parliament instead of granted through ordinary legal processes.”
Iceland’s parliament, known as Althing, saw three Pirate Party members elected in 2013. NPR billed the party as an “international online freedom movement”.
Ögmundur Jónasson argued to parliament on Thursday that Edward Snowden “is now being chased and has nowhere to go”, according to Icelandic media.
Icelandic lawmakers have put legislation on the table that would make NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden a citizen of the polar country
Edward Snowden, 30, also has a friend in former Icelandic presidential candidate Asthor Magnusson, who is collecting signatures from Icelanders as part of a petition to make his a citizen.
“I appeal to the oldest parliament in the world, the Althing in Iceland to grant a citizenship to Edward Joseph Snowden and issue him with travel documents for safe passage to Reykjavik,” Asthor Magnusson wrote in an appeal to Parliament, according to RT News.
“As matters have developed, I think that Icelanders should say <<This is enough: We support open society and human rights>>. It’s a basic human right to grant this man asylum in Iceland.”
The ruling Conservative and Moderate parties could halt the bill. And some have speculated that the country’s president, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, could succumb to pressure purportedly being placed on international leaders by the U.S. government and veto the legislation.
Not surprisingly, Iceland also plays host to the website WikiLeaks, another well-known whistleblowing foe of the world’s intelligence community.
WikiLeaks has become a sort of public relations face for Edward Snowden, who remains in hiding.
On Monday, WikiLeaks released a letter they say was penned by Edward Snowden.
“I am unbowed in my convictions and impressed at the efforts taken by so many,” Edward Snowden wrote in closing.
Members of the Icelandic parliament, it seems, may be among those “many” taking efforts to help Edward Snowden.
For now, Edward Snowden is believed to be stuck in a Moscow airport transit area, seeking asylum from more than a dozen countries.
Though stuck may be the wrong word. He is one of America’s most wanted fugitives, but it seems that Edward Snowden could be living in luxury at a hotel at a Moscow airport.
The Novotel Moscow Sheremetyevo picks travelers up from the airport, transports them in a bus and houses them on a sealed floor, ensuring that they never step on Russian soil.
It has a fitness centre, games room, library, Turkish/steam bath, and indoor pool.
The hotel is just 35 minutes from central Moscow and with 493 rooms, it is one of the largest in the area.
Iceland’s centre-right opposition parties are set for a return to power with nearly all votes counted after Saturday’s parliamentary election.
The Independence party has 26% and the Progressive party 24%, putting them on track to win nearly 40 of the 63 seats.
The ruling Social Democrats are trailing with around 13%.
It is a dramatic comeback for the parties widely blamed for Iceland’s economic meltdown in 2008.
Iceland saw its prosperity evaporate, as the country’s three banks collapsed, and the Social Democrats came to power a year later, with a programme of austerity tailored to international lenders’ requirements.
“The Independence party has been called to duty again,” said leader Bjarni Benediktsson, who looks likely to become prime minister.
“We’ve seen what cutbacks have done for our healthcare system and social benefits … now it’s time to make new investments, create jobs and start growth,” he said.
“I’m very pleased,” said Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, leader of the Progressive party, as results came in.
Iceland’s centre-right opposition parties are set for a return to power with nearly all votes counted after Saturday’s parliamentary election
The centre-right camp has promised debt relief and a cut in taxes.
The two parties are also seen as Eurosceptic, and their poll success could slow down Iceland’s efforts to become a member of the European Union.
The Eurosceptics argue that Iceland already gets most of the benefits of full membership through existing free trade arrangements with the EU and by being part the Schengen visa-free travel zone.
Many Icelanders have become frustrated with the outgoing Social Democrat government, saying that its austerity policies were too painful.
A number of smaller parties have performed well, including Bright Future, which looks set to enter parliament with six seats and the computer activist Pirate party, with three.
The Social Democrats are on course for nine seats and the Left-Greens seven.