Bardarbunga volcano system

Steam and smoke rise over a fissure in a lava field north of the Vatnajokull glacier, which covers part of the Bardarbunga volcano system, August 29. (Marco Nescher / Reuters / August 29, 2014)


REYKJAVIK (Reuters) - An earthquake struck the region around Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano on Sunday while fissures in the area continued to spew out lava but still none of the ash that could hamper airline traffic.

The earthquake occurred at 0708 GMT and reached a magnitude of 5.4, making it one of the bigger quakes in the area in central Iceland since significant tremors began on Aug. 16, often producing thousands of quakes per day.

"There was also another quake, magnitude 4.6 at 0330 (GMT) in the night," said Bergthora Thorbjarnardottir, geologist at the Icelandic Meteorological Office.

"Seismic activity underneath Bardarbunga volcano is still ongoing but remains steady," she added.

Lava from the fissures around Bardarbunga has so far reached the surface only on land that is not covered by ice, whereas an eruption under an ice cap may be explosive and result in an ash cloud that could under certain circumstances disrupt aviation.

A cloud of abrasive ash from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano, in a different region of Iceland, closed much of Europe's air space for six days, stranding tens of thousands of passengers, after an eruption under the ice cap.

The ash warning level for aviation related to the current fissure eruptions remained at orange, the second-highest level on a five-color scale, after several brief hikes to the top red in recent weeks.


(Reporting by Robert Robertsson; writing by Niklas Pollard; Editing by Alison Williams)