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The last time Eyjafjallajökull erupted: an account from 1822 5 May 2010

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[From the Liverpool Mercury, 13 September 1822, p. 86.]

Eruption of the old volcano of Eyafjeld Jokkul in Iceland, in December 1821

The remarkable fall of the barometer which took place almost simultaneously throughout all Europe, in the month of December, 1821, and which in some cases was accompanied with an agitation of the magnetic needle, brought many persons to conjecture that some tremendous convulsion of nature must have visited some part of the globe. This conjecture has at last been verified by a volcanic eruption of the old volcano of Eyafjeld Jokkul, which has been in a quiet state since the year 1612.

This mountain, otherwise called Mount Hecla, is about 5666 feet in height. It is nearly equidistant from Kolla and Hecla, and is the southernmost of the chain where a dreadful eruption broke out about the middle of the last century.

On the 19th December, 1821, the eruption began. The crater was formed at the distance of five miles from the minister’s house at Holt, and discharged itself through the thick mass of ice that enveloped it, and which is never melted. The ice was dispersed in every direction, of which one mass, 18 feet high, and 60 feet in circumference, fell towards the north. A number of stones, of different sizes, rolled down the mountain, accompanied with a noise like thunder; and this was immediately followed by a discharge of an enormous and lofty column of flame, which illuminated the whole country, and allowed the people in Holt to read as perfectly within their houses at night as if it had been day. Ashes, stones, gravel, and heavy masses of rock, some of which weighed about 50 lbs, were thrown up, and one of these last was found at the distance of five miles from the crater. On the day immediately following the eruption, a great quantity of fine greyish-white powder of pumice was discharged, and carried about by the wind so as to fall like snow, through every opening. It exhaled a disagreeable smell of sulphur, brought on affections in the eyes, and occasioned diseases among the sheep in Vaster Eyafjeld and Oster Landoe.

On the 25th of December, a violent storm raged from the south, and by the united action of the wind and rain, the fields were cleaned of the sulphurous dust which had covered them. On the 26th and 27th of December, there was a heavy storm from the north-east, and the barometer, which had been gradually falling since the 18th December, when it was 29° 16, had reached, on the 26th December, its lowest point at 28° 49. It is a curious fact, however, that on the 8th of February, the barometer fell to 27° 25, a time when no earthquake was felt, and no apparent change had taken place in the eruption. On the 18th of February, the barometer, which had been at 29° 42 on the 11th fell to 27° 72. So late as the 23d of February, the Eyafjeld Jokkul emitted smoke greatly resembling the steam of boiling water; and some persons were of the opinion that the mountain had decreased, and was lower near the crater, as it evidently appeared to be when viewed in a direction from north to south.

It is stated that the water in the rivers that flow from the Jokkul and the surrounding mountains, had been considerably enlarged during the first day’s eruption. A constant rumbling noise was heard in the vicinity of the volcano, attended occasionally by a dreadful crash, as if the immense masses of stones and ice were on the eve of all being precipitated down the mountain.

Other two volcanoes to the east, in the mountains of Kolla and Oraefa Jokkul, are said to have broken out, but no certain information has been received on that subject.

The vessel which brought the account of the volcanic eruption to Copenhagen, left Iceland on the 7th of March and it is reported that the sailors, when at sea, again saw a violent fire in the direction of the volcano.

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Eyjafjallajökull news for 4 May 2010: more ash, more flight bans 4 May 2010

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The Icelandic Meteorological Office publishes regular bulletins on the activity at Eyjafjallajökull both in summary form and as more detailed PDF documents (linked from the summaries). Today’s bulletin (PDF here) reports as follows:

  • ash plume height observed at 5.8-6.0 km a.s.l. tracking ESE to SE from the eruption site, dark grey in colour
  • ashfall reported 65-80 km ESE of Eyjafjallajökull: ‘people could hardly see next farms’
  • meltwater levels slightly decreasing
  • explosive activity and ash production strong, increasing since 3 May
  • lava flowing northwards and descending slope about 4 km north of the crater, lava front marked by white steam plumes
  • eruptive crater size estimated at 280 x 190 m, cone being built up at crater
  • tremor levels have decreased to levels similar to those of 18 April
  • several earthquakes detected beneath Eyjafjallajökull, originating deep within crust (14-20 km depth)
  • no measurable geophysical changes in Katla volcano

Overall, ‘More explosive activity and ash production than was observed yesterday. Progression of the lava seems to be slower than yesterday. Presently there are no indications that the eruption is about to end’.

Further airspace closures over the British Isles will take effect tomorrow because of the continuing presence of dangerous levels of volcanic ash from Eyjafjallajökull (click here for London VAAC ash advisory issued at 18:30Z today, in graphic form). At present the closures are planned to affect Scotland and Northern Ireland, but as the ash moves east and south other parts of Britain may be affected.

For all our Eyjafjallajökull coverage: Eyjafjöll « The Volcanism Blog.

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Eyjafjöll – summary information for Eyjafjallajökull, which the GVP calls Eyjafjöll (1702-02=)
Icelandic Meteorological Office – bulletins on Eyjafjallajökull activity
Data for Eyjafjallajökull/Myrdalsjökull – a range of near-real-time data from sensors on and around Eyjafjallajökull: tremor, seismicity, deformation, webcam images etc., from the Iceland Met Office

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Eyjafjallajökull: no end in sight 4 May 2010

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Yesterday the Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO) issued a bulletin (PDF) on the eruption at Eyjafjallajökull which reported that ‘there are no indications that the eruption is about to end’.

Eyjafjallajokull 4 May 2010 10:49 GMT

The image above comes from the Vodafone Þórólfsfell webcam, captured at 10:49 GMT today (original image here), and shows Eyjafjallajökull erupting a fairly vigorous steam-and-ash plume from its main vent. Steam plumes can be seen rising from the gully where lava is interacting with meltwater as it descends the slope. The main ash plume has been varying in height (the IMO bulletin and VAAC reports indicate up to around 5.5 km altitude) and density yesterday and today; on occasion the cameras have shown a very black plume indeed. Tremor has reduced since the IMO issued its bulletin, but there have been more earthquakes under Eyjafjallajökull over the last 24 hours, some shallow (1.1-2.2 km) but some very deep: between around 21:00 yesterday and 01:00 today there were four quakes of magnitudes between 1.4 and 1.8, at depths varying from 13.0 to 21.6 km. There also appears to be a north-south alignment to recent earthquake activity:

Eyjafjallajokull earthquakes 4 May 2010 12:55 GMT

The very deep earthquakes could represent magma moving at depth, or subsidence of magma chambers which have been emptied by the eruption; the IMO bulletin reports deformation measurements which indicate continued subsidence at Eyjafjallajökull. Time will tell what implications this has for the future development of the eruption.

Erik Klemetti has more on the IMO Eyjafjallajökull bulletin at Eruptions.

For all our Eyjafjallajökull coverage: Eyjafjöll « The Volcanism Blog.

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Eyjafjöll – summary information for Eyjafjallajökull, which the GVP calls Eyjafjöll (1702-02=)
Icelandic Meteorological Office – bulletins on Eyjafjallajökull activity
Data for Eyjafjallajökull/Myrdalsjökull – a range of near-real-time data from sensors on and around Eyjafjallajökull: tremor, seismicity, deformation, webcam images etc., from the Iceland Met Office

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Eyjafjallajökull ash victims strike back with eruption of creativity 4 May 2010

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Matt McArthur's vision of an angry and ashy EyjafjallajokullAmong the thousands of people who ended up grounded involuntarily far from home when Eyjafjallajökull’s ash cloud closed down European airspace last month was Andrew Losowsky, a writer and editor (‘marooned magazine fanatic’ – Belfast Telegraph) who found himself stranded in Dublin. He decided to make a travel disaster into a creative opportunity, and put out an online appeal to other writers, editors, artists, designers and illustrators to make something of their situation and contribute to a collaborative magazine project. Each collaborator was invited to take a photograph of the bed they were currently sleeping in, head to the nearest bar and ask for a cocktail called a ‘Volcano’ (and note down the recipe), and provide additional contributions according to their own particular skills: a story, an artwork, whatever. Thus, on the left we have illustrator Matt McCarthy’s vision of an angry and ashy Eyjafjallajökull, while below is a poster by Defeat Chaos urging us, vainly, to Defeat Volcano, and below that Paul Khera’s Volcano cocktail. Some more samples of the kind of work that has been coming in can be seen in this post on Andrew’s blog.

stranded2.jpgThe final outcome of this collaboration, through print-on-demand technology, will be a physical magazine (although there will be a digital version as well). Explaining his decision to go for a traditional bound-paper format rather than some here today, gone tomorrow website, Andrew says, ‘To create a website would be something continually updated for a while but eventually it would wither away and die in a corner of the internet. To make a physical product means that it exists on your bookshelf that you can pick up and read and remember. It happens in a more serendipitous way in your life; it brings back the emotional resonance again’.

Although most victims of the travel disruption have now made it home again, there are still people stranded out there – and there are many others who have found themselves, for whatever reason, stranded away from their homes on a rather more permanent basis. To help them out proceeds from the magazine are going to the International Rescue Committee.

People who are still stranded, or who were stranded but are now back home, are still welcome to participate in the magazine: follow this link to a simple survey form as the first step. And given that Eyjafjallajökull is not finished with us yet, there may be scope for a second issue.

Volcano cocktail by Paul Khera

News
Barriers to publishing being broken down by the internetBelfast Telegraph, 27 April 2010
Ash cloud passengers unite to publish magazine – BBC News, 29 April 2010

For all our Eyjafjallajökull coverage: Eyjafjöll « The Volcanism Blog.

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Those Eyjafjallajökull webcams 4 May 2010

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I’ve had some e-mails asking where webcams covering the Eyjafjallajökull eruption are to be found. Eyjafjallajökull is not camera-shy volcano – plenty of cameras, lots of coverage, lots of images. Here’s a summary of the current webcam links:

Vodafone Þórólfsfell webcam.

Eyjafjallajökull frá Þórólfsfelli.

Eyjafjallajökull frá Hvolsvelli.

Eyjafjallajökull frá Valahnúk.

Web camera Eyjafjallajökull – Múlakot.

The Icelandic Met Office has a list of Icelandic webcams with locations, and Jón Frímann has compiled another Iceland volcano webcam list which can be found here. More webcam information, along with a great deal else, can be found at the excellent Eyjafjallajökull links list at the Islande 2010 blog.

For all our Eyjafjallajökull coverage: Eyjafjöll « The Volcanism Blog.

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Ireland closes airspace as Icelandic volcanic ash returns (updated) 3 May 2010

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The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) has re-imposed a total flight ban on Ireland’s airspace for a six-hour period tomorrow because of the hazard presented by airborne ash from the Eyjafjallajökull eruption in Iceland. All flights into and out of Irish airports will be banned from 06:00 to 12:00 GMT on 4 May 2010, although overflights of Ireland from the UK and Europe will not be affected. The IAA statement on the closure is here: IAA forced to restrict flights in Irish airports.

In the United Kingdom there is a possibility that Scottish airspace may be affected as the ash moves eastwards, although the UK authorities are currently waiting for further Met Office and VAAC reports on the nature and movement of the ash cloud. This cloud is denser than the plume which caused all the problems last month, but smaller in extent, so it may be easier for aircraft to re-route around it.

The latest volcanic ash advisory (in graphic PNG form) from London VAAC (archive here) reports Eyjafjallajökull plumes reaching FL180 (18,000 feet / 5,500 metres altitude) this afternoon, but no significant ash above FL200 (20,000 feet / 6,000 metres altitude).

UPDATE 4 May 2010. Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland airspace has re-opened, but in Scotland airports in the Outer Hebrides will remain closed until later this afternoon (source: BBC).

For all our Eyjafjallajökull coverage: Eyjafjöll « The Volcanism Blog.

News
Flight disruption threat as new ash cloud approachesDaily Telegraph, 3 May 2010
Volcanic ash alert for Western Isles flights – BBC News, 3 May 2010
Ireland to re-impose flight bans due to volcanic ash – BBC News, 3 May 2010
Volcanic cloud shuts down Irish airspaceDaily Telegraph, 3 May 2010
Ireland to ground all flights on Tuesday morningThe Guardian, 3 May 2010

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Eyjafjöll – summary information for Eyjafjallajökull, which the GVP calls Eyjafjöll (1702-02=)
Data for Eyjafjallajökull/Myrdalsjökull – a range of near-real-time data from sensors on and around Eyjafjallajökull: tremor, seismicity, deformation, webcam images etc., from the Iceland Met Office

The Volcanism Blog

Eyjafjallajökull serves up plenty of tremor, and flight ban blame game continues 3 May 2010

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The Eyjafjallajökull eruption has been at a constant and fairly low level of activity over the past few days: strombolian activity at the vent and lava flows descending the flanks, some steam from lava-water interaction, and occasional ashfall south of the volcano. However, tremor has been rising markedly since yesterday, indicating that magma movement is under way. This could produce an upsurge in activity (and perhaps more explosivity and ash production), or it could fade away and have no effect on what happens at ground level at all. It’s notable that the incidence of earthquakes, as distinct from tremor, is currently at a low level around Eyjafjallajökull, suggesting that whatever the magma may be doing at depth it is not yet making its way to the surface. Worth watching carefully, anyway – and of course that is precisely what the experts in Iceland and elsewhere are doing.

Meanwhile, changing wind patterns are raising fears that the ash cloud currently lying to the west of the British Isles may be pushed back towards Britain’s coasts. The blame game over the ash-related airline disruption continues, with the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority telling the BBC that it’s the fault of the engine manufacturers that the flight ban lasted so long: the manufacturers, afraid of the commercial consequences of deciding what level of ash (and thus, in effect, what level of potential engine damage) was acceptable, dragged their feet over determining a new and more flexible standard. And in a new outbreak of nonsense at The Guardian, Peter Singer ruminates that ‘the greatest risks by far [in flying into a known volcanic ash hazard] are borne by the passengers and crew. If they are fully informed of the risks, and are still willing to fly – perhaps the crew has been offered more money, as workers in dangerous occupations often are – should we prevent them from making the decision to fly?’ Presumably there would be some kind of vote taken at the terminal in advance of each departure, with flight crews – steely glints in their eyes, extra cash in their pockets – standing ready to take the daring and the dauntless into the sky.

For all our Eyjafjallajökull coverage: Eyjafjöll « The Volcanism Blog.

News
Iceland volcano rumbles on, life does tooIceNews, 1 May 2010
There is a limit to the price of safetyThe Guardian, 2 May 2010
Fresh volcano ash cloud prompts fears for hospital patientsAberdeen Press & Journal, 3 May 2010
Volcano ash flight ban ‘might have ended sooner’ – BBC News, 3 May 2010

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Eyjafjöll – summary information for Eyjafjallajökull, which the GVP calls Eyjafjöll (1702-02=)
Data for Eyjafjallajökull/Myrdalsjökull – a range of near-real-time data from sensors on and around Eyjafjallajökull: tremor, seismicity, deformation, webcam images etc., from the Iceland Met Office

The Volcanism Blog

Eyjafjallajökull: the art of Claire Iris Schencke 1 May 2010

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'Monotype of the Krossá River' (copyright Claire Iris Schencke)

A little while ago we linked to the Eyjafjallajökull Art Project, a collection of artworks inspired by the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland. There’s some very good stuff there (along with some that is, er, not so good), but Claire Iris Schencke‘s work really stands out. The artist has been in touch since I posted that link, and I’m very happy to say that some of her Eyjafjallajökull works will soon be showcased in a Saturday Volcano Art article, when  that feature resumes publication later this month. Much more (and a nice link back to us) can be found on Claire Iris Schencke’s art blog.

For the moment, and as a taster, here (with the permission of the artist) is Claire Iris Schencke’s ‘Monotype of the Krossá River’. The braided glacial river Krossá drains Eyjafjallajökull and Myrdalsjökull, feeding the Markarfljót which runs southward from the glaciers and which flooded during the eruption last month. More information about this picture can be found in a posting on the artist’s blog.

[‘Monotype of the Krossá River’, copyright Claire Iris Schencke.]

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Build your own Eyjafjallajökull 30 April 2010

Posted by admin in Eyjafjöll, Iceland, miscellaneous, volcano culture, volcanoes.
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Cut-out 3D volcano model from the British Geological Survey

Fancy your own table-top volcano? Well, with card, scissors, glue, and a little patience, you can build your own three-dimensional model of Eyjafjallajökull, courtesy of the British Geological Survey. Just print off their PDF of the component parts from the BGS website (in colour, preferably) and cut them out* and put them together according to the instructions and hey presto, your very own Eyjafjallajökull.

The model is both a cut-out and a cut-away, as it is designed to reveal the volcano’s inner workings in schematic form, and it comes complete with ash-laden plume. The BGS website says the model is ‘intended as a simple guide to understanding how volcanoes such as Eyjafjallajökull are influenced by tectonic plate activity along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge’.

* When it comes to the cutting out, ‘you may need to get an adult to help you’.

Other model volcanoes: John Seach’s baking soda volcano; a USGS-approved paper volcano; a really explosive model volcano; several different model volcanoes in a range of materials; some artificial volcanoes for the home, several of them highly dangerous.

The Volcanism Blog

Hi-res Eyjafjallajökull images from ASTER 28 April 2010

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Eyjafjallajokull volcano, Iceland, 19 April 2010 (ASTER/Terra daytime VNIR image)
Eyjafjallajökull volcano, Iceland, 19 April 2010: detail of ASTER/Terra daytime VNIR image. Click on image to view original (13.5 MB jpg).

The Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER), a joint US-Japanese sensor that lives on NASA’s Terra satellite, produces some marvellous imagery of the Earth, and seems particularly to like being pointed at volcanoes: the superb ASTER Volcano Archive features over 1500 volcanic sites from Abu to Zuni-Bandera.

ASTER has lately been hard at work on Eyjafjallajökull, and Prof Michael Ramsey of the University of Pittsburgh Department of Geology and Planetary Science has been compiling the results into some stunning high-resolution images. The data presently available comes from 1-26 April and gives a clear view of the activity and the surrounding terrain at Eyjafjallajökull during the recent period of vigorous eruption.

For all our Eyjafjallajökull coverage: Eyjafjöll « The Volcanism Blog.

News
High-res Icelandic volcano images obtained – UPI.com, 28 April 2010

Information
ASTER data of Eyjafjallajokull volcano – Prof Ramsey’s ASTER imagery

The Volcanism Blog