On April 14th 2010, Eyjafjallajokull erupted following a dormancy of almost 200 years. It was preceeded by up to 3000 earthquakes in the region. The volcano is located in South Iceland - one of the most tectonically active regions of the world. Iceland lies on the North-American / Eurasian constructive plate boundary and, some believe, a hot spot.
The eruption occurred underneath 200m of glacial ice that underwent sublimation to produce fine, glassy particles of ash that spread across Europe because of the location of the jet stream at the time. Multiple magma chambers kept the volcano erupting for a long time and mixing lava types (Rhyolitic with Basaltic) made the eruption more explosive than usual.
- Around 10 million airline passengers affected and stranded abroad
- Residents in the volcano shadow were covered in ash and may have evacuated
- Sports games across the globe had to be cancelled or postponed
- Airlines lost up to $200 million of each day not flying
- Kenya lost up to $3.5 million as a result of lost exports
- Eurostar and other travel companies fluorished - 50,000 extra passengers a day added £7 million to the railline.
- Eruption added 0.15m tonnes of carbon dioxide each day to the atmosphere - but the lack of air travel prevented between 1.3 - 2.8m tonnes from reaching the atmosphere.
- Phytoplankton in the Atlantic Ocean bloomed as they fed on the iron from the falling ask - boosting the marine ecosystem.
Responses & Management
Short-term responses were largely domestic because, being a HIC, the countries impacted had the capacity to be able to cope with the hazard (plenty of transport links across Europe because of the European Union's transport policies).
The hazard was managed comparitively well, with no loss to life. Local authorities evacuated 700 residents before melting glacier ice flooded them out. Airlines also took the difficult decision to risk economic disaster for the safety of their passengers.
Following the eruption, aviation authorities have a 6-point plan if any similar situation arises. Recognition, Characterisation, Analysis, Regulation, Communication, Planning.