Iceland Fireland

The blowing volcano is Iceland is a simply incredible natural phenomenon. Everyone in the geological sciences must be in high states of alert watching, analyzing, adding to previous knowledge. Eyjafjallajokull is not just any volcano. It’s at the northern end of the great mid-Atlantic ridge, the zipper-like structure from which new plate structures pour, sliding east and west and eventually under the continents. So the interest in its behavior will include all the usual vulcanologist material but also the relation to sea-floor spread, continental drift and some of the deepest matters in geology.

Right now everyone is most concerned with the composition and likely duration and extent of the ash cloud that has shut down two-thirds of Europe’s aircraft. Fear of engine damage from the abrasion of the micro-particles of volcanic bile is keeping planes from flying.

More photos at Huff Po

Beyond the immediate disruptions is the question of possible impact on climate and weather. It is well known that past mega volcanic eruptions have drastically altered sun-light, growing seasons, precipitation and other atmospheric related conditions. Jeff Masters has taken a look at the Eyjafjallajokull eruption and thinks it will not have too large an impact: not large enough (so far) and too far north for upper level winds to spread the residue as widely as happens with tropical eruptions.

Jeff Masters

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