Iceland's volcano ash alert lifted

media captionBardarbunga is part of a large volcano system hidden beneath the Vatnajokull ice cap in central Iceland

An eruption near Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano that briefly threatened flights has ended, local officials say.

The fissure eruption at the Holuhraun lava field north of the Vatnajokull glacier stopped at 04:00 GMT on Friday.

Before lifting air travel curbs, the Icelandic Met Office (IMO) lowered its aviation warning from red to orange - the second-highest level.

Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano erupted in 2010, producing ash that disrupted air travel across Europe.

The IMO said the eruption had started just after 00:00 GMT on Friday and lasted about four hours.

The fissure eruption took place between Dyngjujokull Glacier and the Askja caldera, according to a statement from the Department of Civil Protection.

image copyrightGoogle / BBC/ S Gudmundsson
image copyrightReuters
image captionNo ash has been detected in the eruption but steam has been rising from the volcano
image copyrightReuters
image captionOfficials say all airports are functioning normally

Earlier, Bjorn Oddsson, a geophysicist from Iceland's Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management, said the eruption had not affected air travel.

"It's mostly effusive; there's no ash in the air, and not even in the vicinity," he said.

"So mostly lava is pouring out of the craters right now and the only flight restriction is over the area. All airports are open, and things are quite in control."

BBC transport correspondent Richard Westcott says that even if a big cloud of volcanic ash were emitted, it would not cause the same level of disruption to flights that brought Europe to a halt in 2010.

He says new equipment that airliners and engine makers have been testing would allow planes to identity and fly around ash clouds.

image copyrightIcelandic Met Office
image captionThe size of the Bardarbunga volcano under the ice was not discovered until it was seen by satellite in 1973

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