A huge ash cloud and a column of smoke and steam has risen up to 12 miles into the air due to the Grimsvotn volcano eruption in Iceland. Considered the most active volcano, it hasn’t yet affected the European air space.

There is currently no impact on the European or transatlantic flights and the situation is expected to remain so for the next 24 hours, the air traffic controller Eurocontrol said.

Aircraft operators are continuously being updated on the developments of the situation. Following the eruption, airports were closed and transatlantic flights were being diverted. The flights are canceled as of till Monday afternoon.

A similar eruption had occurred last year when the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland had brought Europen flights to a halt, leaving the passengers stranded at the airport for days and causing a lot of chaos. Nearly 500 people had to vacate their homes from the surrounding areas.

According to the Icelandic Meteorological department, the current eruption started at 5.30 p.m. on Saturday. The ash cloud initially reached up to around 20 kilometers high in the air, which later varied between 10 and 15 kilometers.

About Grimsvotn volcano

The magma chamber of the Grímsvötn volcano lies beneath the Grimsvotn lakes. Grimsvotn lakes are the highlands of Iceland at the northwestern side of the Vatnajökull ice-cap and are covered by it. The volcano has a history of eruptions and glacial bursts.

An eruption took place at Grímsvötn on Dec. 28, 1998 which lasted for a week. Following it, there was another eruption in 2004. But none of the eruptions were followed by glacial bursts. The recent eruption on Saturday is much larger than the 2004 eruption, and the strongest in Grímsvötn for the past 100 years, said the Met department.

What happens?

There is apprehension among the people about the volcano eruption. Fine ash could intensify asthma or lung diseases. Even after it settles to the ground, it should not be stirred up by scuffing it with feet as that would make breathing hazardous, the BBC news had reported last year during similar eruptions.

According to British glaciologist Matthew Roberts at Icelandic Met Office, the interaction of the molten rock, the magma and the glacial ice causes the magma to cool very quickly, crushing it into tiny fragments of rock, which in turn causes huge clouds of ash.

Iceland, which has a population of about 320,000 and a total area of 103,000 km sq., is an Europen island country located in the North- Atlantic Ocean. The capital Reykjavík, is home to two-third of the nation's population.