VolcanoIsrael news photo: NASA

A volcanic ash cloud is drifting away from Iceland and heading towards Europe.

Ash, smoke and steam erupted from southeastern Iceland's Grimsvotn volcano, buried deep beneath the ice of the uninhabited Vatnajokull glacier. The volcano began spewing fire on Saturday for the first time since 2004. The eruption quickly became Grimsvotn's largest since 1910.

A thick layer of black soot blanketed the area for miles, according to witnesses quoted by the Associated Press. But scientists said it was unlikely the long-term impact would come anywhere close to that of last year's volcanic eruption that grounded planes on continents across the ocean for days.

The volcano, located approximately 120 miles east of Iceland's capital, Reykjavik, did not affect the city at all.

However, the volcanic ash cloud that resulted was classified as “high density.” Icelandic air traffic control cleared a 120-nautical mile (220-kilometer) no-fly zone around the volcano. The country's main airport, Keflavik, was closed and all domestic flights were canceled, along with some 40 international flights, at least until noon Monday.

The volcanic ash cloud was expected to begin disrupting airline flights over Scotland as early as Monday night local time.

British Meteorological Office spokesman David Britton said forecasters predict the cloud could cover parts of Scotland by 6:00 a.m. local time, early Tuesday.