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Volcano sleeps and Europe flies

Eyjafjallajokull ash plume in early May (AP Photo/ APTN)

By David Stewart White
June 4, 2010

Things have gotten quiet at Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano. The silence is good news for European airlines and passengers who suffered through weeks of travel chaos earlier this year when the Icelandic volcano erupted and spewed ash into the skies over Europe.

Scientists monitoring Eyjafjallajokull indicate that the volcano's magma chambers are nearly empty and ash production has stopped. The volcano's temperature has dropped and only steam is puffing benignly from the crater.

Forecasting volcanic activity is not an exact science, but experts think that Eyjafjallajokull has gone dormant, for the time being.

In the future, volcanic eruptions may not cause the air traffic chaos that followed this spring's ash clouds from Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull. European airline EasyJet has installed an experimental Airborne Volcanic Object Identifier and Detector (Avoid) system on one of its Airbus jets. If it works, the system could allow pilots to see and avoid areas of airborne volcanic ash. Ironically, the new system will have to be tested elsewhere since the skies over Europe are currently ash-free.




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