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Grimsvotn Volcano Erupts in Iceland

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Iceland's most active volcano, Grímsvötn, erupted on Saturday for the first time since 2004, hurling a plume of steam and ash nearly 20 kilometers (12 miles) into the sky. People living next to the glacier where the Grímsvötn volcano burst into life were most severely affected, with ash blocking out the daylight and smothering buildings and vehicles. Iceland also closed its main international airport and canceled domestic flights on Sunday, and aviation officials will be closely monitoring European airspace for the next few days. The outburst is the volcano's most powerful since 1873 -- stronger than the Eyjafjallajokull volcano which caused trouble last year -- but it may not cause the same degree of upheaval. Scientists say the type of ash being spewed out is less easily dispersed and winds have so far been more favorable than during last year's blast. Gathered here are a handful of images taken in the land of fire and ice over the weekend. (More photos will be added today, as warranted.) [23 photos]

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A cloud of smoke and ash is seen over the Grímsvötn volcano on Iceland on May 21, 2011. The cloud rising up from Grímsvötn as a result of the eruption was seen first time around 1900 GMT and in less than an hour it had reached an altitude of 11 kilometers (6.8 miles), according to the Icelandic meteorological institute. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)
A cloud of smoke and ash is seen over the Grímsvötn volcano on Iceland on May 21, 2011. The cloud rising up from Grímsvötn as a result of the eruption was seen first time around 1900 GMT and in less than an hour it had reached an altitude of 11 kilometers (6.8 miles), according to the Icelandic meteorological institute. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)
Ash Plume from Grímsvötn Volcano, Iceland, seen on May 22, 2011, captured by NASA's MODIS satellite. (NASA/GSFC, MODIS Rapid Response) #
Steam and ash plume from the Grímsvötn volcano, which lies under the Vatnajokull glacier, about 120 miles (200 km) east of the capital, Rejkjavik, on Saturday, May 21, 2011. (AP Photo/Jon Gustafsson) #
Three lightning bolts appear in the clouds, fog, haze, and volcanic ash at the site of erupting Grímsvötn volcano on May 22, 2011. Original here. Gunnar Gestur) #
(1 of 3) Erupting steam and ash interact with clouds above Grímsvötn volcano. Photographer Jóhann Ingi Jónsson traveled within 1 kilometer of the eruption site on the evening of May 22, 2011, to get these photos. Original here. Jóhann Ingi Jónsson) #
(2 of 3) Lightning strikes within the ash cloud above Grímsvötn volcano on May 22, 2011. Photographer Jóhann Ingi Jónsson traveled with 4x4 Adventure Tours within 1 kilometer of the eruption. Original here. Jóhann Ingi Jónsson) #
(3 of 3) A single lightning bolt climbs the ash cloud of erupting Grímsvötn volcano, seen from nearby Vatnajökull, on May 22, 2011. Original here. Jóhann Ingi Jónsson) #
Steam and ash rise from the Grímsvötn volcano, Saturday, May 21, 2011, in Iceland. (AP Photo/Halldora Kristin Unnarsdottir) #
A plume of ash, steam, and volcanic gases rises from the Grímsvötn volcano under the Vatnajokull glacier in southeast Iceland on May 21, 2011. (Reuters/Jon Gustafsson/Helicopter.is) #
Sunset beyond the rising ash cloud of erupting Grímsvötn volcano, seen from nearby Sprengisandur, on May 22, 2011. Original here. Gunnar Gestur) #
In this photo taken on Saturday, May 21, 2011, ash and steam erupt from Grímsvötn volcano, about 120 miles (200 kilometers) east of the capital, Rejkjavik. (AP Photo, Jon Gustafsson) #
This image of the rising ash cloud of Grímsvötn volcano comes from Eggert Norðdahl of Reykjkavík. Norðdahl: "This was shot in raw format with a Canon digital camera and Sigma 'Bigma' 500 mm lens, no filters, from a mountaintop about 85 km (50 miles) from the eruption site. Much of Iceland's interior is still closed to traffic, I could only stay in the area for a few hours as the wind direction was changing and some ash was already coming our way." Original here. Eggert Norðdahl) #
An image of the sun obscured by volcanic ash, taken by Úlfur Björnsson on May 22, 2011. Björnsson: "I was hiking the biggest mountain in Iceland (Hvannadalshjúkur) and when we came down we saw the volcano erupting. We went to our camp and went to sleep, but the next morning everything was covered in ash and you could not see very much. Later in the day the ash clouds got a little bit thinner and I could see the sun through them. I grabbed my camera and took this photo." Original here. Úlfur Björnsson) #
Icelandic Photographer Robert Reynisson covers the volcano eruption at the edge of the ash fallout zone in Reykjavik on May 22, 2011. (Reuters/Ingolfur Juliusson) #
A tractor is seen through a cloud of ash at the Geirland farm near Kirkjubaejarklaustur, on May 23, 2011. (Reuters/ Ingolfur Juliusson) #
Tire tracks are pressed into a layer of volcanic ash, outside a gas station in Kirkjubaejarklaustur, Reykjavik, on May 22, 2011. (Reuters/Ingolfur Juliusson) #
A car travels down a highway, immersed in total darkness due to an ash fallout, at the small town of Kirkjubaejarklaustur, Reykjavik, on May 22, 2011. (Reuters/Ingolfur Juliusson) #
Sheep move through a meadow on a farm during an ash fall in Mulakot, Iceland, on May 22, 2011. (Reuters/ Ingolfur Juliusson) #
A dead bird lies in volcanic ash on Highway One near the town of Kirkjubaejarklaustur in southeast Iceland, on May 22, 2011. (Reuters/ Ingolfur Juliusson) #
A farm beneath an ash colud in Thorvaldsstadir, southeast Iceland, on May 22, 2011. (Reuters/ Ingolfur Juliusson) #
Ash Plume from Grímsvötn Volcano, Iceland, seen on May 23, 2011, captured by NASA's MODIS satellite. (NASA/GSFC, MODIS Rapid Response) #
A sheep stands in an ash-covered field on a farm in Mulakot, on May 22, 2011. (Reuters/ Ingolfur Juliusson) #
The volcanic eruption cloud of Grímsvötn, apparent on the very edge of NASA's GOES-13 imagery. (NASA/CIMSS Satellite Blog) #

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