Earthquakes shake unstable Iceland volcano

But aviation alert is reduced from red to orange

Powerful earthquakes have hit the shaky Bardarbunga volcano in central Iceland. However, after raising the aviation alert to red at the weekend – meaning an eruption was imminent – the Icelandic authorities then downgraded the alert back to orange.

The earthquakes, which measured 5.1 and 5.3 on the Richter scale, struck near the active volcano early on Sunday. They represent the strongest seismic activity recorded in the area since 1996. But scientists say it remains unclear whether this shows an increased risk of eruption.

Thousands of smaller earthquakes have been registered in the region over the last seven days. Iceland issued a red alert for air traffic on Saturday when a small eruption of lava took place under the ice.

As previously reported, the Bardarbunga volcano is located beneath the Vatnajokull glacier, around 320 kilometres from Reykjavik.

dpa, AFP, AP

[pictured: Bárðarbunga caldera; photo courtesy Iceland Geological Survey]

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