At least this one is easier for non-Icelandic speakers to pronounce. A year after the Eyjafjallajökull eruption paralyzed air travel in much of Europe, another Icelandic volcano blew its top. Grimsvötn in southeastern Iceland began erupting May 21, spewing ash plumes as high as 12 to 17 kilometers into the stratosphere. The U.S. GOES 13 satellite captured these images at the start of the eruption. The series was taken every 30 minutes over a three-and-a-half-hour period; Iceland is indicated by the blue outline.

By May 25, the eruption of ash and sulfur dioxide had ceased and the volcano was releasing only steam. Satellite tracking showed sulfur dioxide being carried northeasterly over the Arctic Ocean as ash plumes spread to the southeast.

Although the Grimsvötn eruption was larger than Eyjafjallajökull's, there was far less impact on air travel. Much of the initial wet ash had fallen to the ground near Iceland, and the suspended ash plumes were high enough to allow flights at lower altitudes. Between May 23 and May 25 about 900 of 90,000 scheduled lights across Europe were canceled due to volcanic ash.


—Nina Bai