Eyjafjallajökull - EDC Volcanic Eruption Case Study

  • Created by: idavila
  • Created on: 12-06-19 13:07

Location & Key Facts


  • Europe; South of the Arctic Circle
  • Divergent plate boundary; Eurasion and North American plates→Moving apart at 2-5cm per year
  • Mid Atlantic Ridge runs through Iceland
  • South East of Reykjavik

Key Facts

  • 15th April 2010
  • 2.5km wide caldera
  • 2000m tall stratovolcano
  • Began to erupt 20th March
  • Fissure eruption resulted in lava flowing predominantly from the West
  • Ash plume reached 11000m into the atmosphere; distributed by high velocity jet streams
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Social & Economic Impacts


  • 150m thick icecap melted, causing major flooding and rsulting in 700 people being evacuated
  • 20 farms destroyed by flooding and ash plume
  • >10 million stranded or unable to board flights
  • Air travel prevented for 10 days
  • 17,000 flights per day were cancelled
  • Respiratory probelsm as ash settled; 25% of the ash was <10μm
  • Destroyed part of Route 1; other roads bulldozed to divert flooding


  • Government paid to dredge rivers and recover damage to homes from ash
  • Fine grain ash posed a problem to airlines→Airlines lost $1.7 billion in revenues
  • £102 million lost in tourism
  • 50,000 farmers in Kenya lost jobs as they could not export goods
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Environmental Impacts

  • Fine ash silted rivers, causing blockages
  • Respiratory problems of livestock and flouride ingestion reduced agricultural production and caused food shortages
  • Flash floods damaged land
  • 30000 tonnes of CO2 input into the atmosphere per day, although this did not conribute to global anthroprogenic emissions
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Preparation and Responses

Short Term

  • As the evacuation began in March, Icelandic government had time to prepare (e.g. exclusion zones and evacuation)
  • Text warnings alerted Icelanders 30 minutes prior to the eruption
  • Contingency plans (e.g. Tesco avoided being affected by the ash cloud by flying Kenyan produce to Spain then using road transport to recieve goods in the UK)
  • High tech. equipment helped predict eruptions; Icelandic Meteorlogical Office measures earth movements around the volcano

Long Term

  • Further research into the effects pf ash on aircrafts
  • Reconstruction of roads and improved flood defenses
  • Local emergancy services were trained
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