Fire and Ice

April 17, 2010


Eyjafjallajökull, the erupting Icelandic volcano, is the cause of cancelled flights, airport closures and the stranding of thousands of passengers all over the world. The volcano is spewing an enormous amount of ash in a 30,000 foot high cloud that has shrouded the skies over Europe.

In the last four days over 17,000 flights were cancelled as airports in Europe closed down. According to news reports a shutdown of air travel like this has not happened seen since September 11, 2001. It is estimated that airlines are losing $200 million a day.

The ash contains particles of rock, glass and sand that could clog an airplane's engines. The cloud extends to northern Spain.

The UK Telegraph reports:
"This is not even a major eruption, so it is startling to see the impact it has had," said Matthew Jones, a British glacier expert who monitors volcanic activity at the Icelandic meteorological office.

Eyjafjallajökull is indeed not one of the biggest or most volatile of Iceland's 22 active volcanoes. But the precedents suggest that Britain and its European neighbours could face the fall-out for weeks or months to come.
Hidden from the our view by the mushroom of volcanic debris lies an even greater threat, the much larger crater of nearby Katla – named for its ferocity after a powerful witch in an ancient Icelandic saga.

Eyjafjallajökull has only erupted three times since the Vikings settled the island in the ninth century, most recently nearly two centuries ago when it blew intermittently for 14 months in the early 1820s– an alarming enough prospect for air traffic across the Atlantic.

And each occasion, it has been followed within months or a year or so by a major eruption at Katla. That volcano has also blown another 20 or so times in its own right, on average once every 60 to 80 years – so another is long overdue as it last exploded in 1918.

That eruption dwarfed what the world has seen from Eyjafjallajökull in recent days, producing about 10 times as much molten rock and throwing ash an estimated 60,000 ft into the sky.
Stranded passengers reported missing wedding, funerals, and other important events. President Obama and other world leaders were prevented from attending Polish President Lech Kaczynski's funeral. Concerts and other events have been cancelled. Farmers in Kenya reported dumping tons of vegetables and flowers that were set to be flown to England.

Some report that a much larger problem than cancelled flights that could transpire. The eruption could cause health danger from the noxious sulphur dioxide, longer winters and crop failure for up to 4 years.

2 comments:

The Saipan Blogger said...

Yay! Iceland has ended Global Warming!

Anonymous said...

This could very easily be us as we sit on a Volcanic chain of Islands. Ask yourself "Are we Prepared"?. "Is our Government Prepared"? "Is there a Plan"? I can only imagine Uncle Ben's plan, Grab all my money and get on out of here. I can govern from a safe place while we, the People of Saipan, Tinian and Rota, are stranded, left to fend for ourselves. Only difference with that and most of the rest of the "Reign of Ben" is that nature is the cause, not corruption.