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Iceland Volcano – Eyjafjallajokull Continues to Erupt

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Photo from jurvetson via Flickr.In Reykjavik, Iceland, a volcano under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier erupted for the second time in less than a month on April 14.

The volcano, about 75 miles east of Reykjavik, erupted after almost 200 years of silence and inactivity, the last eruption near the Eyjafjallajokull glacier in 1821. After the first eruption, there were a series of strong tremors overnight and rivers began rising the morning after, both strong indications that another eruption was imminent. The eruption forced 800 residents to evacuate around the Eyjafjallajokull glacier, as melted water poured down the mountainside and rivers rose up to 10 feet high.

The eruption melted ice and spewed hazardous steam and smoke, causing a major road to close. Workers smashed holes into the road to serve as outlets for the water to escape and to prevent bridges from being washed away. Scientists say that this second eruption was 10 to 20 times more powerful than the first one and had a much greater risk of severe flooding.

Since this eruption involved water and ice, it was much more violent than a regular eruption would have been with lava oozing out of the earth. Luckily, no lives or property were in immediate danger. Iceland’s Meteorological Office stated that a plume of smoke rose about 5 miles into the air, seriously disrupting European air travel. However, there are no signs that the large clouds of volcanic ash should disrupt air travel between Europe and North America, so we are safe in San Diego. Iceland’s international airport also remains open.

Iceland, home to 320,000 people, sits directly on a large volcanic hot spot in the Atlantic’s mid-oceanic ridge. Volcanic eruptions are often and easily triggered by seismic activity of the earth when tectonic plates shift around and magma from deep below makes its way up to the earth’s surface.  Iceland’s Meteorological Office is still a bit concerned about the Katla volcano, a much larger volcano nearby that has erupted in tandem with Eyjafjallajokull in the past. An eruption of Katla could cause even more widespread flooding and could severely disrupt air travel between Europe and North America. The last Katla eruption was in 1918, and vulcanologists say that another eruption is overdue.

As Eyjafjallajokull continues to erupt but finally travelers in Europe are getting home after nearly a week of closures from the heavy ash spread by the eruption. Although air space is open it is possible that more tourists will continue having problems getting home for another week.

Eyjafjallajökull Video

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