The Icelandic Met Office and Civil Protection authorities have reduced their measurement of Bárðabunga volcano from “emergency” to “alert”, and air travel is open again.
RÚV reports that, despite earlier reports that a small eruption was underway under the Dyngjujökull glacier, scientists came to the conclusion, after some disagreement, that there is likely no eruption after all.
As such, the state of readiness for Bárðarbunga has been reduced from “emergency” to “alert”.
Civil Protection in Iceland came to the same conclusion, announcing, “The National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police has decided to move the emergency phase back to alert phase. … This decision is based on scientific evaluation of the situation. Scientists´ observations conclude that a sub-glacial eruption did not occur yesterday as was previously believed. The Icelandic Met Office has decided to move the aviation color-code from red to orange. Therefore, all restrictions on aviation have been cancelled and all scheduled services airports in Iceland are open.”
The unpredictable nature of volcanoes has been a source of frustration for many. MBL reports that many residents near the evacuation area believe Civil Protection went too far.
Gunnar Björnsson, a farmer from Sandfell in Öxarfjörður, believes some people were evacuated from areas that could not possibly be reached by flooding in the event of an eruption. He contends that “any farms past Highway 85 are not in danger”. Highway 85 runs very close to the northeast coast of Iceland, where the river Jökulsá á Fjöllum – a river believed most likely to flood in the event of an eruption – reaches the sea.
Whether Gunnar’s contentions will bear out remains to be seen.