Geography Case Study Iceland Volcano

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  • Case Study Iceland Volcano
    • Causes.
      • The Eyjafjallajokull ice cap sits on top of a volcano which in the February of 2010 erupted.
        • The second eruption took place directly under the ice cap making it much more explosive.
          • This is because, the weight of the ice cap meant a greater build up of pressure withing the volcanoes main chamber leading to a bigger eruption.
      • The larger volcano Katla usually erupts soon after the primary volcano situated under the ice cap.
      • The ash was quickly cooled by the melting ice cap  giving it a much more abrasive glass like structure
    • Impacts
      • Heat from the volcano melted vast amounts of ice under the icecap.
        • Melt water emerged as a glacial burst (or jokulhlaup) causing flooding
        • This lead to the evacuation of 800 people due to the risk.
      • Farming was disrupted because of ash as cattle could eat grass because of the ash and had to be kept indoors.
        • Drinking water was poisoned by fluorine-tainted ash.
        • Some vegetation damaged where ash lay was thicker than 10cm
      • The airport on the south of the island was closed due to heavy ash fall, passengers were bused to the airport on the North of the island.
        • However this didn't impact tourism which in fact increased, By the end of march over 10,000 tourists had seen the eruption.
      • Mud slides (lahars) raised channel beds which in turn increased the risk of flooding.
    • Impacts on European Air Space.
      • The explosive nature of the eruption carried ash up into the jet stream.
        • This carried ash in a a South-Easterly direction towards mainland Europe.
      • This lead to over 20 countries closing their airspace at one point or an other.
        • It was feared that the ash would rapidly reduce visibility and damage aircraft leading to engine failure.
      • Air travel was susspended over Europe between the 15th and 20th of April.
        • This left around seven million passengers around the world stranded.
        • Cost around £400 million a day.
    • What was learnt.
      • The 2010 eruption encouraged research and investment into;
        • Engine design
        • The level of ash concentration in the atmosphere deemed safe for air travel,
        • meteorological forecasting of ash movements
      • Insurance companies and airlines have reviewed policies regarding their obligations to consumers.
      • Air control has also revised more roots to take to destinations should a disruption like this happen.

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