Seismic activity at Iceland volcano begins to peter out, but eruption not yet officially over

LONDON (AP) — Seismic activity is petering out at the Icelandic volcano that caused major European air traffic disruption earlier this year, though the eruption has not yet been declared officially over, authorities in Iceland said Monday.

The most serious problem now is posed by mud flows created when heavy rains mix with ash settled along the top of glaciers close to the Eyjafjallajokul volcano, said Sigurlaug Hjaltadottir, a geophysicist with Iceland's Meteorological Office.

It could be several weeks or months before scientists make a firm declaration that the eruption is over, after "declining in the past few weeks," Hjaltadottir said.

"The major hazard now is mud flows," which can be carried onto nearby roads, causing major difficulties for motorists, she said. "We have a team dedicated to monitoring that situation."

Dark ash that settled along glaciers also has caused them to melt more quickly, as the glaciers have absorbed heat from the sun faster. In turn, that has prompted a dangerous rise in water levels in at least one river, she said.

Iceland's Civil Protection Agency said it had also noted a slowing in volcanic eruption activity. "It is very quiet at the moment," said Iris Marelsdottir, an official at the center.

Eyjafjallajokul (pronounced ay-yah-FYAH-lah-yer-kuhl) erupted April 14 for the first time in almost two centuries.

Danger to planes from the volcanic ash plume led most northern European countries to close airspace between April 15 and 20, grounding about 10 million travelers worldwide.