Eyjafjallajökull, Gígjökull, Jökulhlaup, Gosmökkur
    By Patrick Lockerby | April 18th 2010 06:17 AM | 116 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
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    Retired engineer, 60+ years young. Computer builder and programmer. Linguist specialising in language acquisition and computational linguistics....

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    Eyjafjallajökull, Gígjökull, Jökulhlaup, Gosmökkur

    The world is suddenly faced with the need to learn how to pronounce Islenska, the Icelandic language.

    With much of European airspace closed due to volcanic ash in the skies, people are most commonly asking how long it will last, and if it may get worse.  Also, the media continues to confuse the issue with talk of an eruption under, variously, a glacier, an ice cap, an ice sheet.

    There is a world of difference between an ice sheet kilometers thick, and the Gígjökull glacier and the Eyjafjallajökull ice cap.

    Caveat: much of the information below is gleaned from Icelandic language sources.  Since I do not speak Icelandic and do not posses an Icelandic dictionary I have had to rely on my linguistics skills.  If there are errors then I would be most grateful for help in correcting them.

    The Eyjafjalla eruption

    The Eyjafjallajökull - icecapped Eyjafjalla - volcano is erupting.  The initial eruption was between Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull in the area between the two volcanoes called Fimmvörðuháls.  The initial eruptive phase of March 20 to April 12 caused lava to flow from eruptive vents on the bare volcano flanks. The initial phase lava was alkali-olivine basalt, with substantial silica content.

    On April 14 a new eruption commenced under the volcano’s ice covered summit caldera.  Interaction between magma and meltwater caused the ejection of a plume of ash about 8km high.

    Volcanic ash is a highly abrasive silica particulate which can abrade cockpit windows and flame-out jet engines.  It is a very serious aviation safety hazard.

    The International Airways Volcano Watch (IAVW) system was established by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) in coordination with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) to monitor volcanic activity reports and to give immediate warning to aircraft of volcanic hazards.

    On April 14 2010 a VA SIGMET for Eyjafjalla was issued.  SIGMET, or Significant Meteorological Information, is a weather advisory that contains meteorological information concerning the safety of all aircraft.  VA means volcanic activity.

    Following the issue of the VA SIGMET, airspaces across Europe began closing.

    Between two volcanoes Fimmvörðuháls
    Image courtesy Wikimedia.

    Mt. Eyjafjallajökull is an active stratovolcano, 1660 meters tall.  From between 900 and 1000 meters it is covered by an ice cap.  The caldera is relatively small, about 2 to 2.5 km in diameter. To the North is a break in the caldera rim through which the outlet glacier Gígjökull drains. The name Gígjökull means crater glacier.  The glacier is also known locally as Falljökull, meaning ice fall. There is another exit glacier, Steinsholtsjökull. The caldera ice exits via the Gígjökull glacier towards the Markarfljot plain.

    Gígjökull glacier
    Image courtesy of Ólafur Ingólfsson
    Professor of glacial and Quaternary Geology, University of Iceland
    Department of Geology and Geography and Institute of Earth Sciences

    The following paragraph has been edited, with thanks to Eric Diaz for pointing out the error.

    When an eruption occurs next to or under ice, substantial meltwater is formed as ice and magma come together.  The resulting material is ejected as a plume of volcanic ash.  Materials ejected can roll down the slopes as a hot ash cloud known as a lahar pyroclastic flow.  The meltwaters can rush down the slope as a lahar or Jökulhlaup, a mix of rock, ash and floodwater.

    The April 14 2010 Eyjafjalla eruptive phase was from a series of vents along a 2 km long north-south oriented fissure.  Meltwater was observed flowing.  The eruption plume rose to more than 8 km height, deflected to the east by westerly winds.

    How long will the plume eruption last?

    How long it will last depends, I suggest, on the volume of ice in the caldera.  If the volcanic activity continues after the caldera ice is melted then the volcano should revert to magma emission with no significant plume.

    Since I can find no data on the ice volume I can make no reasonable educated guess as to how long this plume will last.  I have seen forecasts ranging from days to about a year, but in the absence of good data and a good model, I think these must be taken as blind guesses.

    The volcano continues to be active, emitting large volumes of ash in a pulsed eruption.  In this age of the internet and the webcam the world has been able to watch this awesome display of nature's power from the comfort of home.  Mostly with a beer.

    The zone covered by the plume currently is shown in this meteorological chart.

    Reduced size chart.  Full size image available at:

    Gosmökkur  -  Varstu að leita að: "Go smoke a ... " ?

    Some search engines are just plain rude.  ;-)
    From the context, I think that gosmökkur means 'ash plume', but I am not certain.

    Edit: gosmökkur means 'ash plume';  mökkur is a word very close to møkk in Norwegian which means 'dirt'.  Thanks to Bente Lilja Bye for that piece of knowledge.

    I await comments from Bente Lilja Bye and Eric Diaz with a certain amount of fear and trepidation.  ;-)

    Recommended read:
    An Introduction To Igneous Petrology


    Questin, why does the volcanic ash have a much higher silica content than the basaltic lava exiting the Eyjafjallajökull volcano? Also, why is this Iceland hot spot eruption so much more explosive than hot spot eruptions in Hawaii? Is it a result of melting water mixing with the lava? Seems there has to more to this than just melting glacier water.

    There are more erupting volcanoes in Iceland simply because the plates are more active and therefore more volcanos are formed.
    The plates underneath Hawaii were more active in the past and are now stiller. This is quite similar to volcanos, why are some of the dormant for longer than others? why are there more eruptions in iceland than hawaii?
    I think the answer is as simple as that, though you might be able to find more information on the topic elsewhere (: .

    "Eyjafjallajökull, Gígjökull, Jökulhlaup, Gosmökkur" Boy! that's a mouthful! LOL ;-)
    Steve: the silica is in the magma.  Every volcano has its own 'signature' mix of minerals.

    This is a phreatomagmatic eruption, a type of eruption caused where magma and water meet.

    Have you ever seen a chilled piece of glassware shatter through contact with boiling water?  Have you ever seen pillow lava forming where magma flows into the sea.  Combine those two mental pictures.

    When magma at about 2000o meets water or ice there is a very rapid transfer of heat.  Rapid transfer of heat can cause thermal shock.  By a not yet fully known mechanism the lava in contact with water or ice causes the lava to chill and fragment into small particles.  In sufficient quantity the ice also can fragment into chunks.

    The Eyjafjalla eruption is in the centre of an ice-filled caldera.  Direct contact between magma and ice is possible as the lava sprays onto the ice surface.  As the ice melts, meltwater will flow down the caldera slope towards the vent or vents.  You can imagine the volcano clearing the ice away from its vent with the first eruption.  After that, water and broken ice will flow down to the vent as the heat melts the remaining ice.

    Outside the caldera, hot ash or lava falling on glaciers will cause rapid melting.  Reports suggest that the initial eruption triggered local floods of meltwater up to 3 meters deep, pushing along mud, rocks and lumps of ice.

    For as long as the volcano erupts at its present rate and is fed with meltwater at its present rate there is no prospect of the plume reducing enough to make safe commercial flights over Europe generally possible.

    Judging by the jet stream forecasts, there will only be about two days of the plume heading south before it reverts towards the UK and Europe.  Two days will not be enough to clear the air.  Given that the British military has banned its own non-emergency flights, the civil operators would be wise not to push their luck by 'knowing better' than the military about flight safety.

    You may wish to check back to see what scientificblogging's own volcanologist has to say about my amateur attempts at explaining the science.  I do try to get the facts straight, but I am as fallible as the next human.

    The name of that volcano did not take me completely by surprise.  If you recognize this:

    In Sneffels Yoculis craterem kem delibat umbra Scartaris Julii intra calendas descende, audas viator, et terrestre centrum attinges. Kod feci. Arne Saknussemm

    you will know why.
    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    In Sneffels Yoculis craterem kem delibat umbra Scartaris Julii intra calendas descende, audas viator, et terrestre centrum attinges. Kod feci. Arne Saknussemm

    Which is strangely connected to the world's first wind-up flashlight, invented by Heinrich Daniel Ruhmkorff.

    OK....this is a stratovolcano from what I understand, which means there was a lot of magma mixing going on inside of this volcano before it erupted. At the top of the magma chamber before this thing erupted you had mostly highly viscous, gas-rich felsic (high silica, sodium, aluminum and water content) rhyolitic magma mixing with the intermediate magma andesite. All stratovolcanoes are mostly andesitic. Below that you have the very low viscosity mafic magma (high magnesium, iron and calcium content) which is much hotter than either the andesite or rhyolite above it. The heat from the basalt below caused the gases in the rhyolitic magma to expand until the pressure inside the volcano exceeded the strength of the roof rocks overhead, thus making the eruption extremely explosive. To make matters worse, before the eruption melt-water from the ice cap through cracks in the lava dome seep down into the magma and dissolved into it, adding to the gas pressure making this volcano even more explosive and powerful.

    This kind of volcano is the most powerful, dangerous and deadliest of all of the types of volcanoes in existence. It's this type of volcano with a great enough volume of magma in the chamber that's feeding that could turn this volcano into a supervolcano with global consequences. But like I told Patrick, I can't say what is most likely to happen until I've seen the data from this volcano.

    This type of stratovolcano is what is known as a phreatomagmatic volcano, which means that water has mixed with and has been dissolved into the magma. The caldera that erupted on the island of Santorini a few thousand years ago and was said to have destroyed the Minoan culture was a phreatomagmatic volcano. You don't see them very often, but when you do you, never forget them!

    All I can tell you right now is that this is an extremely dangerous volcano. It could get much worse or the eruptions could end in a few days. But, I can't say anymore than that until I have a look at all the data surrounding this volcano.
    Eric: sincere thanks for the excellent clarification and additional materials.  This is precisely the sort of information that people want, not the unmitigated tripe that some news media is publishing.
    You're quite welcome, my friend! Always glad to help! : )
    This is what comes flying out of a stratovolcano when it erupts.

    Below is a specimen of pumice from my own collection. Pumice is the vesicular form of rhyolite. It's the expanding gas in the highly viscous rhyolitic magma that created the vesicles in this specimen and what also made the eruption of Eyjafjalla so explosive.  Pumice is the only rock in the world that floats on water.

    Pumice from my own collection, copyright © Eric F. Diaz, 2010.

    You don't want one of these landing on your head during an eruption. This lava bomb is coated with partially oxidized basalt that is molten when it first comes out of a volcano.

    Lava bomb from my own collection, copyright © Eric F. Diaz, 2010.
    Nice pictures, Eric.  Thanks for posting them.  I studied a bit of geology at school, but never collected any rocks worth a darn.  Here in Kent you tend to have a rather restricted choice of what to collect: chalk or clay.
    Don't feel bad, Patrick. Where my home is, namely the outskirts of Indianapolis, IN, I'm sitting on top of nothing but glacial till (i.e. red clay) from the last two ice ages, which is sitting on top of an anticline, tens of meters below my feet! As an igneous petrologist, I have to travel a very great distance to see any interesting geology. And, I don't like to travel as much as I did when I was younger. I have tried to develop in interest in Paleozoic paleontology, since Indiana is loaded with fossils from the Silurian and Devonian, but it's just not quite the same! LOL ;-)
    Amateur Astronomer
    Reply to Steve.

    The volcano in Iceland is close to the mid Atlantic ridge where the two sides of the ocean floor are pulled apart and new rock forms as the lava comes up to fill the gap. Not far off shore to the south there are new islands being formed by volcanoes under the sea.

    Eruptions in the area are not unusual, but the present one is big and unpredictable. The eruption could settle down to be viscous magma like Hawaii has, or it could find another water supply underground and continue venting ash. One of the keys to determining the outcome is what is happening to the fault lines that go North and South and extend below sea level. Another key is the elevation of magma in the chamber and whether or not it is above or below sea level.

    The most dangerous situation is the opening of a fault into a magma chamber that is below sea level and located close to the ocean. Krakatoa island had that type of event. After three months of eruptions the magma level in the chamber retreated below sea level. An earth quake opened a fault that might have already been leaking water, allowing sea water to rush into the chamber for a few days. Then the island exploded in a cloud of steam and ash.

    Most eruptions are lesser events, but the people of Java thought their event was a lesser event too. People of Pompei thought they were having a lesser event. Santori explosion that Eric mentioned, left very little of the island above seal level. Now we don’t make those types of guesses. We have research teams measuring the major volcanos. It’s not an exact science. Mt St Helens killed one of the research teams when it exploded.

    Shortly after the explosion of Mt St Helens I was on a flight over the North Atlantic ocean, and all the passengers were coughing and sneezing because of the volcanic dust thousands of miles away.

    Hawaii is on a hot spot that makes volcanic islands in the sea, and it is on a ridge, but the Pacific ocean is getting smaller as the Atlantic gets larger, so the mid ocean ridges are not as active in the Pacific as they are in the Atlantic. Pacific volcanos are concentrated near the shore lines where part of the ocean floor slips under the continents or on island arcs where one part of the ocean floor slips under another part of the ocean floor.

    There is no way to say for sure what a volcano will do or not do. What we can say is that the eruption in Iceland will make the climate cooler in the Northern Hemisphere for a year or two because of fine dust in the air.
    Jerry: many thanks for your input.

    There is no way to say for sure what a volcano will do or not do. What we can say is that the eruption in Iceland will make the climate cooler in the Northern Hemisphere for a year or two because of fine dust in the air.
    That seems like a reasonable conclusion.
    Steve Davis
    You just can't resist a catchy headline!
    Good info.
    You just can't resist a catchy headline!
    It just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it Steve?  ;-)
    Yeah, just like molasses, Patrick! LOL ;-)
    OK...I have finally had a chance to look at the data and  discovered that this is not a stratovolcano but only a shield volcano that has gone crazy because of the mixing and dissolution of water into the magma, making it highly explosive. It is more like Santorini than it is like Krakatau (i.e. Krakatoa) in that it is a basaltic volcano that has gone wild because of the mixing of water with magma through fissures. This started out as a fissure eruption like those at Kilauea except with water mixed into the picture. Literally! So, I'm afraid I gave Patrick the wrong information. Mea culpa, not his.

    You have to understand that until Patrick brought this to my attention, I had not even heard of this volcano and therefore knew nothing about it. I'm an igneous petrologist which is not the same thing as a vulcanologist, so I'm not aware of every active volcano in the world. And until now I hadn't even had the time to read about this thing. If I had been fully awake when Patrick had asked for my help, I would have realized that this is Iceland, land of basaltic volcanoes!

    As far as the increase in silica content from 48% to the most recent 58% in the lava, that is due to a process known as magmatic differentiation, a process that I talk about in one of the articles I posted here awhile back, but which evidently no one bothered to read: An Introduction To Igneous Petrology. It's in the middle of the page.

    But when water mixes with magma it 1) lowers the melting point of the particular rock in question, in this case basalt and 2) over time the chemical composition of the magma becomes more felsic (i.e. higher in silica, sodium and aluminum content) by means of the process which I just mentioned, i.e. magmatic differentiation. Since I've already written about magmatic differentiation I'm not going to explain it again. You can read the article for yourself or not.

    I was not aware of any of this information until now, because like I said, I am very busy, and I did not have time to look at the data on this particular volcano; although I should have known since this is Iceland. A word to the wise: never ask for my help until I've had my third cup of coffee! LOL ;-)

    But this volcano is nothing to worry about. I was right about it being a phreatomagmatic volcano, a volcano in which water has mixed with and has been dissolved into the magma. But its bark is far worse than its bite. This volcano will have NO impact on global temperatures. This is NOT a Mount Pinatubo!

    I don't know how large its magma chamber is, because all of the information on the Internet about this volcano was intended for the public and not a geologist. So, I can't tell you how long it's going to keep extruding lava. But the tephra going up into the air is a very fine volcanic ash and nothing more. It looks a lot worse than it actually is. And the only hazard this volcano poses is to the inhabitants that live in and around it.

    And Jerry is right about Iceland being right smack in the middle of the Mid-Atlantic ridge. The whole island is cut into two parts by the Mid-Atlantic ridge. So Iceland is a hotbed of basaltic volcanoes, and this event  is nothing out of the ordinary for Iceland. The eastern and western portion of Iceland are separating at about the same rate that your fingernails grow. If you love active volcanoes, then that's one of the places in the world to live.

    Sorry about the screw-up on my part, Patrick. : )

    Pardon my lousy graphics:

    Eric: many thanks for taking the trouble to look into this.  People are looking for facts so that they can plan ahead.  The media isn't helping much on that score.

    The British government is normally prone to 'wait and see'.  In this case, they have called on the Royal Navy to assist in bringing stranded people home.  I don't think they would be doing that if they thought the ash would disperse any time soon.

    As for your lousy graphics, they knock my own lousy graphics into a cocked hat. ;-)
    Again, you're quite welcome, my friend. Sorry about the screw-up, but I'm kind of running on vapors these days. You were right about the lahars. Your article was just fine in its original form. Just remember, from now on to never ask for my help before I've had my third cup of coffee and am fully awake! LOL ;-)
    ok, so it is not Krakatoa. but i am curious to know if all of the melt water is going to interfere with the jet/gulf stream. i am not an expert at anything, stuck in Indiana too, but I have read a few things that say that too much fresh water entering will cause the conveyor belt to shut down. do you have any idea?

    The Volcanoes of Iceland

    This should give you an idea of how many volcanoes there are on Iceland. Considering the size of Iceland, that's an awful lot of volcanoes!

    Courtesy of Google Earth
    Thanks Eric.

    Definitely a tourist hot spot.  ;-)
    Some like it hot, Patrick! LOL ;-)
    When the news first went round about the ash plume I noticed a dramatic slow-down in the loading of images from MODIS covering the area.

    The MODIS Aqua and Terra satellites are in near polar orbit travelling in opposite directions.  The coverage is first rate if you are a meteorologist.  For us lesser mortals who want to see the surface, its a matter of waiting patiently for a satellite to line itself up nicely over a relatively cloud-free area.

    Patience pays off.

    MODIS Aqua 2010/109 04/19/10 13:05 UTC

    4km resolution

    2km resolution

    500 meter resolution
    cropped to show detail

    Horizontal lines are artifacts of image stitching.

    As you can see, the plume is greatly reduced and is no longer headed towards Europe.

    Irish and U.K. airspaces will be opening section by section.

    I will update again with those details shortly.

    Images courtesy the U.S.A. taxpayer: NASA rapidfire.

    As the volcano plume reduces and the skies begin to clear, it looks like air travel in the UK could resume about 0700 BST April 19 2010.

    From NATS - the U.K. National Air Transport Service.


    Statement on Icelandic volcanic eruption: Monday April 19, 1530

    The volcanic eruption has reduced and the volcano is not currently emitting ash to altitudes that will affect the UK. Assuming there are no further significant ash emissions we are now looking at a continuously improving situation.

    Based on the latest information from the Met Office, NATS advises that the restrictions currently in place across UK controlled airspace will remain in place until 0700 (local time) tomorrow, Tuesday.

    From 0700 (local time) tomorrow, Tuesday, Scottish airspace will be open, and south to a line between Teesside and Blackpool. Mainland Scottish airports will be open.

    This is a dynamic and changing situation and is therefore difficult to forecast beyond 0700 local; however, the latest Met Office advice is that the contaminated area will continue to move south with the possibility that restrictions to airspace above England and Wales, including the London area, may be lifted later tomorrow (Tuesday).

    We will continue to monitor Met Office information and review our arrangements in line with that. We will advise further arrangements at approximately 2100 (local time), today.

    It is now for airports and airlines to decide how best to utilise this opportunity. Passengers should contact their airlines to find out how this will affect their travel plans.

    end verbatim.

    Latest satellite image:

    MODIS/Terra 2010/109 04/19/10 12:50 UTC

    Image courtesy the U.S.A. taxpayer: NASA rapidfire.
    I think this volcano is winding down. Like I have said, it looks far worse than it actually is. It's the melt-water mixed with the basaltic magma that made it such a spectacular show. And unfortunately for those of you in the UK, westerly winds made the situation worse by moving the tephra eastward. It's a very fine-grained ash that is easily transported by prevailing air currents, which unfortunately for the people in the UK tend to primarily move in an overall easterly direction.

    As far as the danger posed to inhabitants near the volcano, lahars were the greatest threat to live and limb. But, Iceland has a lot of experience dealing with volcanic eruptions just by virtue of the fact that they have so many volcanoes. So, the people in harm's way were evacuated at the first sign of trouble. As a result, no lives were lost from this otherwise harmless volcano.

    When this sort of thing happens in Hawaii, it's a tourist attraction. It's quite a fireworks display. But because of Iceland's latitude and the fact that it is cover with so much ice and snow which is a source of a great quantity of melt-water, this volcano became highly explosive and produced lahars on a regular basis. I'm sorry about that Patrick. You were right about the lahars all a long. ;-)
    I'm sorry about that Patrick. You were right about the lahars all a long. ;-)
    Since that remark is addressed by a geologist to a linguist, I should frame it in gold letters.

    Never mind, Eric.  You can tear me a new one another time.

    LOL ;-)
    No wonder people are afraid of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano. Take a look at APOD for today!

    Do you know I've started getting email about the Eyjafjallajökull volcano just because of the comments I've made in this post. Evidently, this post is all over the Internet. I even got a letter from a grade-school teacher in Hawaii about this volcano. Me and my big mouth!
    Eric: that's some mighty frightening lightning!

    I'd embed the APOD for today, but I think that's a copyright picture.

    To make up for it, here's something not entirely unconnected:

    The Giant With The Flaming Sword
    Guerber, H. A. (Hélène Adeline) (1909). Myths of the Norsemen from the Eddas and Sagas.

    That's why I posted a link to APOD instead of embedding the image. It is copyrighted.
    I think that guy can clap some Swiss copyright on any picture he wants but he cannot put it on a NASA government server and have it copyrighted.   If you're being safe the 'Stromboli' (whatever that is) copyright terms allow for a smaller image and a link to the fullsize one.
    Ummm...yes he can, Hank. These images are selected by NASA and the copyright of the author is guaranteed by NASA. If you infringe on his copyright he can damn well take you to court, and he'll win!
    Like I said, I read the terms on the Stromboli site and it says you can use a small version and link to the original.   

    I would get NASA to pay my court costs, by the way.   Using government servers to host private copyrighted images fails thanks to the modern expansion of the 14th Amendment.

    Full size image - APOD for today
    This would make a great desktop background, if only they had a large enough version of this image! I could enlarge it, I suppose using my graphic software. : )
    If you like a bigger version than the one on APOD for your personal use, I have it. Don't ask. I have used my full force magic. :-) (Ref Hank's comments).

    Apropos copyright - I fully respect the idea of giving credit to those who deserve it. It costs so little just to mention a name and/or include a link. However, some are hysteric and greedy. By giving proper credit pictures like the one at hand here should be freely available for educational and outreach work - which is really what we are doing here on SB. That annoying Stromboli/Swiss whatever states that it can be used for educational purposes, but I would interpret it, together with the rest of the text, as not education online.

    Bente the spoiled child (VIKING child, mind you whoahahaha).
    Bente Lilja Bye is the author of Lilja - A bouquet of stories about the Earth
    I would love a larger version, Bente! I like your spirit, "spoiled VIKING child"! ;-)
    Just wanted to point out some facts about the picture.

    It's a image of Surtur (black, the black) from Norse mythology. In the story he will rise up at Rangarok (the end of the world) and fight the gods. Rangarok is preceded by a very harsh winter called Fimbulvetur He wins the battle by setting a flame with his sword to the whole universe.

    Patrick, great insight to the old Norwegian - well Icelandic :-). You know the story. I love how you used the proper Icelandic name in your heading and text. And it is a good article. Sorry, I haven't had time to comment earlier. I'll come back with full force later. (as we say in Norwegian, maybe not so much in English...)
    Bente Lilja Bye is the author of Lilja - A bouquet of stories about the Earth
     I'll come back with full force later.  (as we say in Norwegian, maybe not so much in English...)
    Everything in Norwegian is like this.   It amazes me how you are such nice people with such a violent language!
    Well, they are decedents of the Vikings, after all!
    Make her tell you about Norwegian nursery rhymes.   Example: A 3 year old gets mad because he can't go to a party - he is already belligerent when sober, his parents tell him, so he must stay home - so he steals a horse, rides to the party, gets drunk and then chops someone in half.

    Norwegian kids should be mental ... but they're not.   So anyone who says we should take away weapons in America, learn from Norwegians:  An armed society is a polite society.
    It's quite fascinating how Scandinavians (i.e. the Norse) who earlier in their history were notorious for their brutality and ruthlessness, ended up being such a gentle and culturally progressive and advanced people. We could learn a thing or two from the Scandinavians.
    he steals a horse, rides to the party, gets drunk and then chops someone in half.

    Cinderella: "Oh, Buttons!  If only I had a sword like Gram!  I'd sure teach my ugly sisters how to party!"

    Don't worry, Cinders.  You're going to have a ball!

    Another update from NATS in the the U.K.


    Statement on Icelandic volcanic eruption: Tuesday April 20, 0900

    The situation regarding the volcanic eruption in Iceland remains dynamic and the latest information from the Met Office shows that the situation today will continue to be variable.

    Based on the latest Met Office information, part of Scottish airspace including Aberdeen, Inverness and Edinburgh airports will continue to be available from 1300-1900 today, and also south to Newcastle Airport. Restrictions will remain in place over the rest of UK airspace below 20,000ft.

    Overnight the CAA, in line with new guidance from the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) decided flights above the ash cloud will be permitted in the UK; between 1300-1900 this will enable aircraft movements above 20,000ft in UK airspace.

    We will continue to monitor Met Office information and the situation is likely to change during the course of the day. We will make a further statement at approximately 1500.

    end verbatim.

    I'll try to post more updates and satellite pictures later.

    The latest MODIS image I have shows the plume greatly reduced and blowing South.

    Plume, top left area.


    April 20 2010 - MODIS/Terra 2010/110 04/20/10 11:55 UTC

    Image courtesy the U.S.A. taxpayer: NASA rapidfire.
    Higher resolutions available:

    Hey you know, Patrick! I found out that there are stratovolcanoes on Iceland. The problem I've been running into, besides very poor information available about this volcano, is that because of all of the tephra blowing around, I haven't been able to get a good look at this thing! I saw one picture of it before it erupted and saw that it has the characteristic shape of a shield volcano. Putting that together with what little information that I've been able to gather about this thing, made it possible for me to figure out what what actually going on based on years of experience in the field of igneous petrology. But, it really has been quite annoying how hard it has been to get any meaningful information about this thing. And this is the first time I've even taken a look at Iceland.

    Bente is sure right about the need for the free exchange of scientific data. How is an expert like me supposed to analyze something like this, when I can't even get my hands on some decent data? If this had been monitored by the USGS I would have had no problem. But there is a serious problem when it comes to international cooperation.
    Eric: you raise an excellent point about international cooperation.

    You and I, and many others on this site, have remarked about the need for more cross-disciplinary studies.  This current problem is a case in point.  If countries and disciplines exchange data and ideas about the plume, and build new points of interpersonal contact, then much good may come out of this eruption.

    Engineers and scientists know that planes and tephra don't mix.  Pilots know it.  Many entrepreneurs know it.  Michael O'Leary, boss of Ryanair, more usually in the news for being controversial has taken a 'safety first' approach.  Some bigger airlines, however, are pressing for permission to fly.

    The European Cockpit Association has made some very sensible suggestions:

    Commercial Aviation is the safest form of transport – but only because for decades we have separated commercial and safety decisions. ECA, which represents the nearly 39,000 Professional Flight Crew from 38 European countries who are asked to deliver this safe transport system, call on safety authorities to put safety before commercial considerations.


    Operational decisions require a "safety first" approach and separately, financial crises require a financial solution. ECA supports the European Authorities in separately addressing both the risks to lives and to the financial survival of our sector.

    Here is one good reason for not rushing to fill the skies with fully loaded passenger aircraft:
    There are 1,500 known volcanoes around the world, and 600 of them are currently listed as active. Collectively there are 55 to 60 volcanic eruptions annually, and monitoring records tell us that some of these explosive eruptions are propelling volcanic ash to the thirty- and forty-thousand foot flight levels traveled by the airlines. Commercial aircraft encountering ash spread by such eruptions have experienced multiple engine flameouts.

    Yeah, tephra and jet engines mix about as well as a lit match and gasoline!
    Yeah, tephra and jet engines mix about as well as a lit match and gasoline!

    I trust you will forgive me if I prefer argumentum ad verecundiam over a test for repeatability of the  experiments.

    But of course, Patrick.
    Latest MODIS/Aqua picture shows no significant rising plume.

    Iceland volcano, cropped from 2km resolution image
    April 20 2010 - MODIS/Aqua 2010/110 04/20/10 13:50 UTC
    red mark is in original image

    NASA images from Aqua and Terra show fires and similar as red dots.

    image courtesy  U.S. taxpayers / NASA rapid response.

    A beautiful photo of Eyjafjallajökull in Summer.

    Eyjafjallajökull seen from Skógar, by TommyBee, public domain.

    Image courtesy German language de.Wikipedia
    Version in 3072 by 2304 resolution‎ 2.57 MB
    Beautiful photo, Patrick.

    Now see, I still can't tell from the morphology. That could either be a basaltic shield volcano or a stratrovolcano that collapsed after a previous eruption into a caldera. It's very frustrating. I'm going mostly by the mineralogical content of the extruding lava, taking into consideration magmatic differentiation and the tephra it has produced. But, I'm still not 100% certain. NEED MORE DATA!!!

    Honestly though? It looks more like a stratovolcano that collapsed into a caldera after a previous eruption! This is the best photo I've seen of the thing yet!
    Damn! I just found out that I was right all along! IT IS A STRATOVOLCANO....that is if Wikipedia is right. It never even occurred to me to check Wikipedia! LOL

    That's a caldera my friend and a very dangerous one at that! So everything I told you in the first place was right on the money!

    This is what I mean about countries and governments being selfish with important data! There's absolutely no excuse for it! Now I'm pissed!
    Eric: glad you liked the photo.  Sometimes, if I'm short of data or a picture, I do a foreign language Google search.  That German language Wikipedia article is quite short, but the picture is amazing.

    My thinking is that it is Spring, with less snow and ice.  Also global warming means less ice.  Last time it erupted it started in December 1821 and lasted for a year.

    Eyjafjallajökull consists of an E-W-trending, elongated ice-covered basaltic-andesite stratovolcano with a 2.5-km-wide summit caldera. Fissure-fed lava flows occur on both the eastern and western flanks of the volcano, but are more prominent on the western side.
    The last historical eruption of Eyjafjallajökull prior to an eruption in 2010 produced intermediate-to-silicic tephra from the central caldera during December 1821 to January 1823.
    You have nothing about which to be sorry, Patrick! It wasn't your fault. I checked the Global Volcanism Program a couple of days ago and the Smithsonian (SI) site wasn't there at that time. And that's the fault of the Icelandic government and their science center!

    Since this is affecting people in other countries besides their own, they had absolutely no right to withhold vital data. But now that this thing has gotten out of control, they have probably had extreme pressure put on them by other governments to release this data, so that geologist, such as me, can analyze it. It's their fault! And what they did is not right!

    I'm angry at them, my friend, certainly not at you! You did a bang-up job of breaking the news of this volcano--which is more than I can say for Iceland! I'm starting to get a picture of what happened.  There are two fissure vents mostly on the west side of the volcano. It is through these fissure vents that melt-water was able to seep in and become dissolved into the already explosive andesitic magma. It was the fissure vents that produced all of that initial steam that was separate from the eruption of the main vent. But the tephra is what is coming out of the main vent.

    I should have realized that no basaltic shield volcano could produce this much tephra for this long of a period.

    If I had had all of the data the first day of the eruption, it would have taken me all of 5 minutes to figure all of this out! But because I have been getting nothing but conflicting reports on this thing, instead of solid scientific data, it's taken me all of these days to figure this thing out! And I am royally pissed at the Icelandic government as well as their science institute for withholding data! This doesn't just affect them! This has been affecting people in the UK and now from I hear is affecting people in as far as Germany!

    I see that the Smithsonian finally has a site up on this "STROVOLCANO". The Smithsonian (SI) and the USGS work hand in hand in their Global Volcanism Program.

    You see this kind of thing would never happen with the USGS. The USGS/SI make their data available to everyone via the Internet worldwide!

    Now that I know I was right in the first place and it is a stratovolcano and I have the SI site to work with, I can probably tell you when the next eruptions will be based, on the seismograms alone--although I'm a little rusty at this. I haven't done this since the eruptions of Mount Redoubt.

    But, I'm still pissed!!! No! I'm more than pissed! I'm MAD as all hell!
    Eric: one is glad to be of assistance - eventually.  ;-)

    My problem is that, as you know, I am currently focused on researching the Nares polynya.

    I have an enormous research team of one, funded at great expense by the British taxpayer in the form of a state pension.  But if the facts are out there, I'll find them.  However, in the immortal words of Captain Lawrence Oates: "I may be some time."
    Like I said above, Patrick, I'm angry at them (i.e. the Icelandic government), my friend, certainly not at you! You did a bang-up job of breaking the news of this volcano--which is more than I can say
    for Iceland! ;-)
    Thanks, Eric.

    I have been looking at some satellite images of the general area of Iceland, Greenland and Baffin Bay.

    I caution my readers that I could be wrong, but judging only from ordinary images in the visible spectrum and from the general regional circulation, it looks like some the ash is on its way to Baffin Bay.

    If that is the case, then any slight effect of the ash in countering global warming could be negated - by an equally slight effect  - if it settles on ice and lowers the albedo in an already thawing area.

    I say again: this is highly speculative.  We won't know if ash has settled in that area until ( if ) it is reported by observers on the ground or in Canada / Greenland airspace.
    Stay Stoic, Eric! Remember that there are barely 300K people on Iceland. And I learned that they are missing an GPS analysis - mostly due to a certain financial crisis...

    Besides - the information is there, just not so easy to find. Here are the seismic measurements.

    And you can browse around here for more goodies:

    I have talked to colleagues up there and they tell me that they haven't got time to serve all the media requests, provide immediate information for the safety of people living on the island (I would understand that is their first priority) and do analysis of InSAR data for instance.

    I know I'll forgive them for saving lives and animals before giving me GPS time series. :-)

    My guess is that USGS and NASA alone employ more people than the whole population of Iceland!

    So hold your horses, cowboy. Be more Viking and chill. :-)

    Bente Lilja Bye is the author of Lilja - A bouquet of stories about the Earth
    Thank you, Bente. I appreciate the help. : )

    Of course, the safety of the people living on the island is the first priority, as you say. I'll try to be more Viking! ;-)
    P.S. You should be very proud of the outstanding job you did in covering this eruption, my friend. My hat is off to you. : )

    The Icelandic government, on the other hand, should be ashamed of themselves for withholding vital data about a major eruption such as this, which affects many countries other than their own!
    From this illustration you can see why I had such a hard time judging from the morphology of this volcano whether it was a shield volcano or a caldera. It's only when I saw the photo posted by Patrick that I began to realize that this was a caldera.

    Courtesy of Simkon and Siebert, 1994.
    Eric: thanks for the extra info and images you posted while I was writing the comment above.

    As for the great compliment : Aw!  Shucks!  ( blush. )
    Thanks for posting that photo of the volcano. I took one look at that thing and realized that doesn't really look like a shield volcano to me. It's the photo that started alarm bells going off inside my head!
    Oh God! This thing hasn't had an eruption since Jan. 1, 1823.  It started on Dec. 19, 1821 and didn't end until Jan. 1, 1823! That's not good--especially for a stratovolcano!
    This started late at night on March 20, 2010 with fissure eruptions and the Institute of Earth Sciences and the Icelandic Met Office is just releasing the data now! They must be out of their minds! What did they think was going to happen?...that this thing would just quietly go away? Those idiots!
    Contrary to reports to the contrary, this volcano can and probably will have an impact on global temperatures. The bottom line is that we've been lied to that last few days. Most of what you've heard or read about this volcano in the news media has been nothing but a bunch of B.S.!!!
    The tephra is made of mostly razor sharp micro-crystalline fragments of andesite and rhyolite. If you're in an area where this stuff is falling or has fallen in the form of ash, you don't want to be breathing this stuff in. It's sharp enough to cause lacerations in the air sacs and bronchial tubes of your lungs. So please wear a mask that covers both you're mouth and nose--the kind they wear in hospitals. You also don't want this stuff in your eyes, so protect them as well.
    I'm sorry to have to report that the Institute of Earth Sciences, the Icelandic Met Office, the Icelandic National Energy Authority and the Icelandic government in general are still withholding some data. Specifically there are no siesmograms nor any gas emission reports for me to look at. There's no data as to the size of the magma chamber feeding this thing.

    All, I have to go on is its past behavior during the 1823 eruption and the SI/USGS weekly reports. There are no live video cam feeds coming in, even if visibility were clear enough to see this thing from the ground. In a nutshell, the Icelandic government has left me as blind as a bat.

    But this thing could keep erupting for months if not over a year. Without further data, there is no way for me to tell. But this could be the worst eruption since the last eruption of Mount Pinatubo.

    Unless Bente can use her clout to break through this wall of silence and make available to me more data, there's really nothing more I can tell you about this current eruption.

    Again I reiterate: The tephra is made up of mostly razor-sharp micro-crystalline fragments of andesite and rhyolite. If you're in an area where this stuff is falling and/or has fallen in the form of ash, you don't want to be breathing this stuff in. It's sharp enough to cause lacerations in the air sacs and bronchial tubes of your lungs. So please wear a mask that covers both your mouth and nose--the kind they wear in hospitals. You also don't want this stuff in your eyes, so protect them as well as best you can.

    By the way, here's the link to the SI/USGS site if you want to check the weekly reports on Eyjafjallajökull yourselves. I think the authorities in Iceland are more concerned about how these eruptions are going to affect their tourism than they are about the global implications. But if my suspicions are correct, there may not be an Eyjafjallajökull before this thing is over--similar to what happened to Santorini at the height of the Minoan civilization.

    I found some related papers, but don't have a subscription - I rely on free access sites.

    Late Quaternary terrestrial tephrochronology of Iceland - frequency of explosive eruptions, type and volume of tephra deposits, Gudrún Larsen , Jón Eiríksson
    Institute of Earth Sciences, University of Iceland, Iceland

    The major producers of basaltic tephra are the volcanic systems that are partly covered by ice, or partly lying within areas of high groundwater or extending offshore, i.e. the Grímsvötn, Katla, Veidivötn-Bárdarbunga, Reykjanes, Kverkfjöll and Vestmannaeyjar volcanic systems.

    I also found that the tephrochronology of eyjafjalla shows, from the last eruption, fine white tephra as against the black tephra from, e.g. Katla.

    Re: my comment suggesting tephra falling on Baffin Bay ice, above,
    Glaciological response to distal tephra fallout from the 1947 eruption of Hekla, south Iceland

    Authors: Kirkbride, Martin P.; Dugmore, Andrew J.

    Source: Journal of Glaciology, Volume 49, Number 166, June 2003 , pp. 420-428(9)

    Glacier responses to tephra deposition are shown to be highly variable where wind-transported eruption plumes produce narrow distal fallout zones with steep lateral thickness gradients. Significant but short-lived advances of faster-flowing glaciers can be triggered by deposition from modest eruptions.

    I'll post more as and when I find it.
    The key word here is "subscription", Patrick. This isn't "free" information. Besides these are papers on someone's ideas about volcanoes on Iceland. This is not data about the current eruptions of this volcano. These papers are absolutely worthless with respect to the current eruptions of this particular stratovolcano.

    This is not the time for idle scholarly speculation for a price. This is a real stratovolcano that is erupting now with real potential threats and dangers to the globe. This is a state of emergency which could get a whole lot worse.

    And I already told you that the tephra was fined-grained. It's light colored because it's high in silica, which is also why it is razor-sharp. Silica fractures thus creating very sharp edges.
    This is not the time for idle scholarly speculation for a price.

    I agree.  This is an example of why scientific data should be made available as soon as is practicable and free of charge.  Given the demographics, there must be a lot of retired - hence low-income - people who could bring their knowledge to bear on any new event, thus better informing rapid response efforts.
    I realize you're not a geologist so you probably don't know what I'm talking about. Here is an example of some of what I'm talking about.

    I need to see this and not some B.S. from some so-called scholar trying to make a name for himself:

    I had to size it down, because the actual seismogram is larger than this entire Web page. And I need to see seismograms for every single day going back months before this thing even started erupting up until this second. For all I know, up until now, all this thing has done thus far is clear its throat, getting ready for the big one(s)! And this is precisely the kind of data that Iceland is withholding.
    Here's an annotated version that will help you to understand what you're looking at:

    Here's the full-size seismogram. What the heck!

    Thanks for posting, Eric.  Wild guess because I'm nodding off at 03:15 local time:  Aleutians?
    Mount! Alaska!
    I should have guessed.  I told you I was nodding off.

    Simon Jenkins of the Guardian is mouthing off about how we shouldn't have shut down the skies.

    I guess he never heard of KLM_Flight_867

    Considering the fact that the last time this thing erupted, the eruptions lasted over a year, I would say that caution would be in order. And mind you, in 1823 we didn't have anything flying in the air!
    And here's the full-sized version (told ya it was larger than the Web page!):

    Iceland needs to cough up that data before some of us start coughing up blood!
    Now, when I see something of interest on the seismogram, this is what I look at: Real-time Seismic Amplitude Measurement (RSAM).

    Is it only USGS doing RSAM?  It needs to be a global network.  The computers, software and networks have been available since 1995.  Why are some people dragging their feet?
    That's something I would like to know. Now the SI/USGS covers many areas in the world, but by shear logistical difficulties, not to mention geopolitical barriers, there's no way they can cover everywhere where there are active volcanoes! That's why countries like Iceland, which are a volcanic hotbed have to stop screwing around and start playing ball with the rest of the international community. You think I can get this kind of data from Iceland? No way, José!
    Eric: I have the same problem with getting SIGMETs and flight planning data from some foreign sites.  Not that I'm planning to fly a plane - it's just for the met information.  :-)

    United states of Europe?  Don't make me laugh!

    All the U.K. sites are free.  SATS even put up an extra temporary site to cope with increased web traffic.

    Meanwhile, I can't get the same type of data from German sites without logging in to an account.,, das is nicht richtig!

    Much of European airspace is either open as I write this, or planning to open soon.

    reduced to 50% - full size available at:

    Latest MODIS image shows relatively small plume.

    Cropped detail at 1km resolution
    red dot in original image shows hot spot.

    Image courtesy the U.S.A. taxpayer: NASA rapidfire.
    Update, better late than never:

    flights have resumed over most of the U.K.

    Latest NATS bulletin:

    Statement on Icelandic volcanic eruption: Wednesday April 21,

    Today, NATS has handled over 2600 movements in UK airspace up to 1800 local time – approximately 80 per cent of normal traffic levels. We are expecting a volume of traffic approaching 90 per cent from approximately 0700 tomorrow morning and are staffed appropriately to deal with this.

    The latest guidance from the CAA shows the predicted location of dense volcanic ash in UK airspace over the far north of Scotland for the period 1900 on 21 April to 0100 on 22 April.  

    Airspace at 20,000 ft or below over the Orkneys, the Shetland Islands and north of Aberdeen will not be available and airports north of Inverness will also be affected (Stornaway, Kirkwall, Wick and Sumburgh). High level Oceanic traffic flying over this area is not expected to be affected. 

    Unless there is any significant change to our operations, we will not be issuing any further updates.


    end verbatim report.

    Following investigations by scientists and engineers, new values of permissible ash have been agreed.

    The previous rule was that no ash could be tolerated.  The new figure - based on new technology which can measure previously unmeasurable amounts of ash - allows flight with up to 0.002g ash per cubic metre of air.  This is subject, however, to strict inspection and maintenance procedures.

    I expect there will be many complaints of 'crying wolf'.  The simple fact is that the decision to ban all flying in UK air space was based in a matter of law which set a volcanic ash tolerance level of zero particles.

    Personally, I am very happy that decisions about public safety are made by independent and scientifically informed bodies rather than entrepreneurs.

    That's encouraging news. Although knowing stratovolcanoes the way I do, that doesn't necessarily mean it's over. Take Krakatau (i.e. Krakatoa) in 1883. It's first eruptions weren't all that bad and then they suddenly stopped. The Dutch goverment at the time thought it was safe, so they sent geologists to the island. That's why we have such detailed records of the 1883 eruptions. Then several hours later all hell broke loose and all three peaks exploded with full force and kept erupting until the next day.

    The volcano extruded so much lava during this time that the entire mountain complex except for a small portion of it which still exists today, collapsed into the ocean creating a caldera that caused a tsunami that killed thousands of people on the southern coast of Sumatra 20 miles away.

    So, we'll just have to watch, wait and see what happens at this point. ;-)

    New plume - some flights grounded May 04 2010.

    I have created a new article:
    New Volcano Plume - New Partial Flight Ban

    I would appreciate it if any new comments could be made under the new article.
    You know, I should be more specific when I make statements like, "this stratovolcano may only be just clearing its throat". I sometimes forget that most people are not familiar with "composite" volcanoes. So, what I mean by "this stratovolcano may only be just clearing its throat" is that during the initial eruptions of a stratovolcano, it is the least dense, but the most viscous magma that is extruded first (i.e. rhyolite, more specifically vesicular rhyolite, pumice). That is why you have so much pumice on the seashore of a stratovolcano piling up after the initial eruptions--pumice being the only rock in the world that floats on water. It is washed up unto the shores.

    Normally, after the initials eruptions, there is a short period of calm while the intermediate magma, andesite mixed with the mafic magma, basalt fills in the empty space left behind by most of the felsic magma that has been forced of out the volcano during the initial eruptions. It takes a little time for the pressure to build up again. But, when it does, the worst and most destructive eruptions occur....or to put it another way, all Hell breaks loose! The combination of the andesite with the extreme heat of the basaltic magma makes for one Hell of a powerhouse.

    This particular stratovolcano has me worried because 1) when I finally was able to see an image of this volcano, I realized that during its last eruption, this volcano had collapsed into a caldera. That alone tells me that this volcano is capable of extruding unimaginable amounts of magma over time. 2) the history of this volcano suggests that this a mean MF. It can sustain powerful eruptions over a long period of time (i.e. over a year) and 3) the data graciously provided to me by Bente tells me that this stratovolcano could end up being one of the most catastrophic geologic events of our time.

    Let's just say that with my many years of experience and training in dealing with volcanoes like this, plus just a gut feeling, this volcano could be really bad news for all of us in time. I hope that I am wrong.
    So what's been going on with this monster as of late? And, it is a monster! It would not surprise me one bit if this stratovolcano ended up becoming a supervolcano.....something that none of us have been witness to in our lifetimes!
    So what's been going on with this monster as of late?

    Eric: I think my 'final comment', above, got buried.  :-)

    I started a new article: New Volcano Plume - New Partial Flight Ban
    That ban has been lifted, but the air traffic authorities are watching that volcano closely.
    It didn't get buried, Patrick. I'm just used to thinking of this as the main thread for Eyjafjallajökull. Sorry about that my friend. I did read your last posts in New Volcano Plume - New Partial Flight Ban, but I'm waiting for something specifically having to do with the eruptions going on with Eyjafjallajökull that will tell me if this volcano is 1) going to be longed-lived and 2) whether or not there are indications that this volcano is becoming a supervolcano.....again! ;-)
    Eric: I browse the satellite images most days, and I keep an eye and an ear open for news. 
    At the moment there is no clear image from either of the MODIS satellites.

    Meanwhile, for entertainment purposes only as the cop-out-clause tradition has it, I have the honor to present Eyjafjallajökull's bigger brother Hekla:

    Detail of Abraham Ortelius' map of Iceland (1585) showing the Volcano Hekla in eruption.
    The latin text "Hekla perpetuis/damnata estib. et ni:/uib. horrendo boatu/lapides evomit" means "The Hekla, perpetually condemned to storms and snow, vomits stones under terrible noise."
    Courtesy Wikimedia.
    Thanks, Patrick. I appreciate the beautiful cartography of this map of Iceland from 1585.

    I'm not a patient person, Patrick. And I do not accept early retirement well, even though I'm well provided for. As crazy as it sounds, when something like the eruption of Eyjafjalla happens, I want to be right there watching and monitoring this thing myself! I guess I am a little nuts, and if the truth be known, that's why I had to take an early retirement from the USGS. I'm an adrenaline junkie, Patrick. Not that's necessarily a bad thing when being a field geologist. But I admit that I was getting reckless and putting my life unnecessarily in danger because of my obsessive/compulsive need to know what's happening. At least I was sane enough at the time that I didn't put anyone else's life in danger. But I must admit, that towards the end, I got pretty far out there. : )
    Keep us updated on this Eric, you're doing a great job on the thread here so far!

    What do you make of the nearby Katla volcano? A lot of what I've seen of the current eruptions suggests that each time this volcano goes off, it triggers Katla, and Katla seems to be deemed bigger and badder.

    ... each time this volcano goes off, it triggers Katla, and Katla seems to be deemed bigger and badder.
    The converse is not true: Katla has erupted 20 times to Eyjafjalla's 3.

    I have seen no evidence to suggest that the one might trigger the other.  Correlation is not proof of causation.  However, where Eyjafjalla gave us a few days with no planes, Katla could give us a year without a summer in Europe.

    Over to you, Eric.  :-)
    I have to agree, Patrick.

    But Katla is badder! LOL ;-)
    I cannot understand the need for the negative comments made about Iceland here so I feel the need to point you in the direction of some information to aid your discussion.

    You will find detailed reports, data, images and links here about the recent Eyjafjallajökull (or Eyjafjöll not Eyjafjalla) eruption here: Regular updates are provided in Icelandic and English.

    Tables and maps and other data on seismic activity for the whole country can be found on - click on the map for more detailed information.

    Iceland (University of Iceland Institute of Earth Sciences and Icelandic Meteorological Office) has an outstanding monitoring network of GPS stations across the country, strain meters and tilt meters, as well as webcams for Hekla, Eyjafjallajökull and Katla. Much of this data is available on the internet either as live feed or within a few minutes of acquisition, with text in both Icelandic and English.

    If basic data is not presented this is most likely because few people need it and such data will appear in scientific publications in time. Anyone needing specific data would be best contacting the Institute of Earth Sciences at the University of Iceland and perhaps should consider collaborating with researchers there. Monitoring and studying the volcano as well as communicating with national and international civil defence bodies has kept scientists in Iceland very busy of late and they seem to be doing a very thorough job.

    Regarding the comments about Eyjafjallajökull being a supervolcano.. there is no evidence for this and such comments are, I believe, irresponsible scaremongering. This eruption is, in the grand scheme of things, rather small, as have been all the known eruptions of this volcano in the Holocene (last c.10,000 years).

    I hope these links will be helpful for you.

    This eruption is, in the grand scheme of things, rather small, as have been all the known eruptions of this volcano in the Holocene (last c.10,000 years).
    This may be nitpicking.   Pompeii did not die in a 'history of the planet' supervolcano yet it was most certainly one that is the most super in recorded history.

    The impact of Eyjafjallajökull was, without question, substantial.    It put Iceland on the map for something besides corrupt finances and a bankrupt economy so I assume tourism will go up now.
    True the impact was substantial and it is good that the banks have been out of the news for a while. Still, supervolcanoes are end-of-the-world stuff.. so I stand by my point. It is highly unlikely that we are all going to die like the dinosaurs because of this eruption of Eyjafjallajökull. Since the supervolcano comment came from a professional geologist I still believe it was irresponsible.

    I understand the British frustration about lack of information about this eruption in the media. It has been very disappointing. But I would blame British media for not making the geology a news story (there is information out there and there are British experts who know about this stuff who could comment sensibly and are not tied up with daily field observations like the Icelanders are).

    However, I would not want to say anything unkind about any people posting here so apologies if my comments have offended anyone. I hope the links prove useful and it certainly is good to see discussion of such interesting science in the public sphere.

    No apology needed.

    I welcome all comments which expand the debate, whether or not I agree with them.

    I agree with Hank: this will be very good for tourism in Iceland.

    My latest article on the Iceland volcano is: Is Eyjafjallajökull Playing Possum?
    Since I am married, and therefore the women are not an option, I would never have visited Iceland - but going to see a volcano that threw Richard Branson into a tantrum?   It is now on the must-see list!
    Thanks for sending me that article link. Good info there.

    hi, am doin a science project for school. dis website is awesome. i had to find the cause of why the iceland volcano eruptd and i pretty much summarised wat u had written here. thank u soooooooo much. FYI ur site is awesum. i wil probably ace my test!!!! :)

    pari:  I am always pleased to know that my work is being used for education.

    Good luck with your test.
    I just want to explain the name. Eyjafjallajökull is the name of the glacier which covers Eyjafjöll.
    "Eyja-fjalla" means "Island-mountain-" and "-jökull" means "-glaciers".

    Eyjafjallajökull is not a mountain, but a glacier that covers the mountain that erupted.

    "Eyja" is the word for "island", "fjalla" is a plural for "mountain" and "jökull" means glacier. :)

    Thanks, Einar

    Well, I did say:
    Since I do not speak Icelandic and do not posses an Icelandic dictionary I have had to rely on my linguistics skills.  If there are errors then I would be most grateful for help in correcting them.

    I nearly got it right when I said "The Eyjafjallajökull - icecapped Eyjafjalla - volcano", but then got it wrong when I said "Mt. Eyjafjallajökull is an active stratovolcano".  I should have said "Mt. Eyjafjalla, also known as Eyjafjöll, is an active stratovolcano"

    Would that be more correct?

    Thanks again.
    Hey Patrick,

    No problem, its a difficult name :)

    Eyjafjöll is a plural, and Eyjafjalla is what I think you call a declension of that word when it is used with the word "jökull" to make up the full name.

    Under the glacier is a mountain range. I haven't seen a name for the volcano under it, it is common to just talk about an active volcano under the glacier. They use the word "eldstöð" which is another word for volcano, mostly used to talk about areas on a mountain/volcano that has more than one active place on it.

    In short, I don't think you can't call it Mt. Eyjafjöll because it is a plural, you souled just talk about an active volcano under neath the glacier without talking about a specific name for it.

    One other think to make it easier to say the name and remember it you could just say Eyja-fjalla-glacier, because saying Eyjafjallajökull glacier is just saying the same word twice just in two languages. :)

    Hope I'm not making this to complicated, just let me know if I can help any further.

    Best regards
    Einar Ólafsson

    ... saying Eyjafjallajökull glacier is just saying the same word twice just in two languages. :)

    Bilingual tautology?  You don't see that every day! Einar, you just made my day.
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