Volcano Eruption Weakens in Iceland
    2010-04-23 15:29:54     Xinhua      Web Editor: Jiang Aitao
 

After triggering widespread disruptions to air travel in Europe, the volcano eruption in Iceland is weakening, though no one knows when it will stop.

As Xinhua reporters watched from a distance on Thursday, the column of volcanic steams and ashes shooting up from under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier constantly changed its color and shape amid erratic weather.

At one point, the sky looked sunny and clear. But it changed suddenly as a strong wind sent intermittent snow and sleet down to the ground. Then within some 20 minutes, it started to rain sporadically, and the volcano was shrouded with thick black clouds.

Later at 9 p.m. local time (2100 GMT) Thursday, the setting sun lit up the mushroom-shaped clouds above the top of the volcano. The moon could be seen high up in the blue sky. It was a quiet night.

On Wednesday, the volcano spewed only a small amount of ash, and there seemed to be fairly little volcanic activity that night.

The surface of the volcano is now calm, and it seems there isn't much water after a decrease in explosions, meteorologist Poranna Palsdottir and geophysicist Steinunn S. Jakobsdottir told a group of foreign reporters.

But the Meteorological Office recorded some volcanic tremors, which means there is still seismic activity in the earth's crust.

Icelandic geophysicist Freysteinn Sigmundsson said the fluoride content of the ash has increased after the magma stopped pushing up through water in the crater.

Scientists said they could not predict when the eruption would end, but they were quite sure that the volcano was weakening.

Due to the non-stop falling of volcanic ash in surrounding areas, locals were advised to wear face masks or cover their respiratory organs with cloth.

Farmers in those areas could check a government-run website for instructions on feeding and taking care of livestock.

Scientists said Friday the wind will gradually grow stronger, and a cloud of ash will drift northwest from the volcano, a very small amount of which could reach Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland.

Due to the ash cloud, for the first time in more than a month, Keflavik and Reykjavik airports will be closed for a certain period of time on Friday, leaving only the other two airports open. Passengers are advised to check flight schedules from time to time.

Icelandic President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson celebrated "the first day of summer" Thursday by paying a morning visit to the Civil Protection Coordination Center, which has been working around the clock since the eruption started.

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