" Skull Volcano " Eruption in Iceland continues

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Iceland volcano sends new tremors, lower ash cloud  Mon Apr 19, 9:02 am ET REYKJAVIK (Reuters) The erupting volcano in Iceland sent new tremors on Monday, but the ash plume which has caused air traffic chaos across Europe has dropped to a height of about 2 km (1.2 miles), the Meteorological Office said. Ash production had fallen and Iceland's coast guard and scientists prepared to fly over the volcano in search of signs its crater was now producing lava, which could indicate the nature of the eruption was changing. "The situation is definitely better than it was particularly on Saturday, which was a difficult day for us due to heavy ash fall just south of the volcano," said Urdur Gudmundsdottir, a spokeswoman at the foreign ministry. The appearance of lava could suggest the eruption was moving into a less explosive phase, possibly a good sign for thousands of travelers who have been stranded at airport across Europe for the past five days because countries have closed their airspace over safety fears. "Lava would be good because then we would not get all this ash, and we know what the ash is doing to the flights," Hjorleifur Sveinbjornsson, a geologist at the Meteorological Office, told Reuters. Visibility near the Eyjafjallajokull glacier was almost nil as falling ash saturated the air and covered agricultural fields with a thin layer of dust which could be dangerous to animals if eaten, local media quoted the police as saying. There was a risk, however, that molten rock could create new pathways for water to run into the crater, causing more explosions and a higher level of ash production. The ash plume, which has cost airlines millions of dollars per day in lost revenue, had descended to a lower altitude as strong winds continued to push the cloud southward, he said. "The ash plume is very low. It's not much higher than 2 kilometers," Sveinbjornsson said. The column of ash rising from the volcano was as high as 11 km when it started erupting earlier last week. Air traffic over Europe remained severely disrupted on Monday.

The ash plume of southwestern Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano streams southwards over the Northern Atlantic Ocean in a satellite photograph made April 17, 2010. The erupting volcano in Iceland sent new tremors on April 19, but the ash plume which has caused air traffic chaos across Europe has dropped to a height of about 2 km (1.2 miles), the Meteorological Office said. REUTERS/NERC Satellite Receiving Station, Dundee University, Scotland/handout (ICELAND - Tags: DISASTER ENVIRONMENT SCI TECH)

A column of steam and ash rises out of an erupting volcano near Eyjafjallajokull April 19, 2010. An Icelandic volcano that has grounded planes across Europe is spitting lava but less ash, officials said on Monday, offering travellers hope that skies might clear at a faster rate. REUTERS/Jon Gustafsson/Helicopter.is/Handout (ICELAND - Tags: DISASTER ENVIRONMENT)

Lighting seen amid the lava and ash erupting from the vent of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in central Iceland early morning Sunday April 18 2010 as it continues to vent into the skies over Europe. Low-energy lightning is sometimes active during eruptions, arcing between particles as they exit the volcanic vent at around 100 metres per second. The dramatic volcanic eruption which has closed Europe's airspace for days has entered a new phase - producing less smoke but bubbling with lava and throwing up chunks of molten rock. Read less
(AP Photo/ Jon Pall Vilhelmsson)

Lava erupts from the volcano under Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull glacier in central Iceland, Monday, April 19, 2010. Europe began to emerge from a volcanic cloud Monday, allowing limited air traffic to resume and giving hope to millions of travelers stranded around the world when ash choked the jet age to a halt. Read more
(AP Photo/Brynjar Gauti )

Lava spews from a volcano as it erupts near Eyjafjallajokull April 19, 2010. Flights from large parts of Europe are set to resume on Tuesday under a deal agreed by the European Union to free up airspace closed by a cloud of ash hurled into the sky by the Icelandic volcano. Read less
REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (ICELAND - Tags: DISASTER ENVIRONMENT)

Lava is seen as a volcano erupts in Eyjafjallajokull April 20, 2010. Flights from large parts of Europe are set to resume on Tuesday under a deal agreed by the European Union to free up airspace closed by a cloud of ash hurled into the sky by the Icelandic volcano. REUTERS/Thor Aegisson (ICELAND - Tags: DISASTER ENVIRONMENT IMAGES OF THE DAY)

he moon rises near a volcano in Eyjafjoll April 19, 2010. Flights from large parts of Europe are set to resume on Tuesday under a deal agreed by the European Union to free up airspace closed by a cloud of ash hurled into the sky by the Icelandic volcano. REUTERS/Ingolfur Juliusson Read less
(ICELAND - Tags: DISASTER ENVIRONMENT IMAGES OF THE DAY)

A volcano erupts near Eyjafjallajokull April 19, 2010. Flights from large parts of Europe are set to resume on Tuesday under a deal agreed by the European Union to free up airspace closed by a cloud of ash hurled into the sky by the Icelandic volcano. Read less
REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (ICELAND - Tags: DISASTER ENVIRONMENT IMAGES OF THE DAY)

Smoke rises from a volcano as it erupts near Eyjafjallajokull April 19, 2010. Flights from large parts of Europe are set to resume on Tuesday under a deal agreed by the European Union to free up airspace closed by a cloud of ash hurled into the sky by an Icelandic volcano. Read less
REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (ICELAND - Tags: DISASTER ENVIRONMENT)

Ash and steam rise from the caldera of an erupting volcano near Eyjafjallajokull, Iceland April 20, 2010. Read more
REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (ICELAND - Tags: DISASTER ENVIRONMENT)

Ash and steam rise from an erupting volcano near Eyjafjallajokull, Iceland April 20, 2010. Read more
REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (ICELAND - Tags: DISASTER ENVIRONMENT)

The ash plume of southwestern Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano streams southwards over the Northern Atlantic Ocean in a satellite photograph made April 17, 2010. The erupting volcano in Iceland sent new tremors on April 19, but the ash plume which has caused air traffic chaos across Europe has dropped to a height of about 2 km (1.2 miles), the Meteorological Office said. REUTERS/NERC Satellite Receiving Station, Dundee University, Scotland/handout (ICELAND - Tags: DISASTER ENVIRONMENT SCI TECH IMAGES OF THE DAY)

The ash plume of southwestern Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano streams southwards over the Northern Atlantic Ocean in an infrared satellite photograph made by the Hyperion instrument onboard NASA's Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) spacecraft April 17, 2010. REUTERS/NASA/JPL/EO-1 Mission/GSFC/Ashley Davies