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A Vancouvrite in Iceland reports excitement amongst the population about the novelty of a volcanic eruption

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Video from YouTube, ITN news

The volcano, called Eyjafjallajokull, began erupting early Wednesday morning, beneath a glacier in southern Iceland, and is already causing major flooding in surrounding areas.

In areas surrounding the volcano ash fall darkens the sky. Even during the day, little sunlight can penetrate.

For local Icelanders the flooding caused by the eruption means a road blockage of the one major "Ring Road" that circles the country. Vegagerðin (the Icelandic Road Administration) breached the road preemptively to protect a bridge from flood damage a few hours after the eruption began. Individuals needing to travel home across the breach were forced to drive all the way around Iceland.

Iceland's Civil Protection Department evacuated homes and farms in the flood plain beneath the volcano on Wednesday and Thursday. Displaced individuals are taking refuge in nearby villages.

The volcanic ash is reported to contain fluorine, a harsh chemical that experts say could harm livestock in the area surrounding the eruption. In areas where ash is falling, health authorities recommend all people protect themselves with face masks, and those with respiratory problems stay indoors.

In Reykjavik and around the country hospitals and clinics are distributing paper face masks to be used in case of a possible ash fall. However, for most, the mood in Reykjavik is one of excitement rather than fear, and daily life is continuing as usual.

Though it has been 187 years since Eyjafjallajokull last erupted, Icelanders are used to eruptions. Iceland is a geological hotspot at the meeting of the meeting of two continental plates that experiences regular eruptions and earthquakes. The infamous Hekla underwent an eruption most recently in 2000, its sixth since 1947. Iceland harnesses geothermal energy to provide electricity and municipal hot water, as well as the country's ubiquitous hot springs.

This eruption follows fast on the tail of another, smaller eruption nearby beside the glacier on a popular hiking route, which started on March 20 and finished erupting earlier this week. This smaller eruption was a welcome surprise for Icelanders, providing a tourism boost and a welcome distraction from the country's current financial crisis.

Volcanologists warn that the first eruption might trigger a larger eruption of the nearby volcano, Katla. In the few known cases of Eyjafjallajokull erupting, Katla has always followed suit.

Nobody knows for sure when Eyjafjallajokull will stop ejecting ash, but predictions have ranged from a couple of days to a few months.

With notes from

VO design blogger Stephanie Orford arrived in Iceland a month ago to start an internship at the an English-language tourist publication,  The Reykjavik Grapevine.  She will be filing a story this afternoon on the eruption of the  volcano beneath Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull (ay-yah-FYAH'-plah-yer-kuh-duhl) glacier that  shut down air traffic across Northern Europe today.

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