Volcano Ash Closes British Airspace

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U.K. Authorities took the unprecedented action of closing its airspace as a plume of volcanic ash from Iceland blew over the country. All flights, except certain emergency operations, were banned starting at noon and weren't expected to resume until 7 a.m. Friday. By then, the plume is expected to be over northern Europe, where similar airspace closures will be implemented. The plume contains minute particles of silicate which damage the engines and airframes of aircraft that fly through it. It's the first sweeping closure of its type since the Second World War.

The Eyajafjallajokull volcano became active about a month ago and has caused some interruption of air service in that country. Today's closures may not be the last. Professor Bill McGuire, of the Aon Benfield Hazard Research Centre at University College London told the Daily Telegraph that the last time this volcano erupted it did so for a year, from December of 1821 to January of 1823. He said there is no way of knowing how long this eruption will occur but since prevailing winds put northern Europe directly in the path of the ash plume more disruptions are possible.