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What's the History Behind the Eyjafjallajokull Volcano

Hundreds of people come to Iceland every year. Some come to see its powerful wateralls, others to see the Northern Lights. Others because they want to see everything the island has to offer. There is, however, a group of people who come here especially for the volcanos. While some are so afraid of them that they would never even go the country with one, others would give everything to be as close as possible. Iceland is definitely a perfect place for this second group.

There is a reason Iceland is called the Land of Fire and Ice. On one side you have massive glaciers with their ice caps covering the frozen lands of Iceland. On the other there are dormant volcanoes that occasionally make themselves known so that no one dares to forget how powerful they are.

Eyjafjallajokull volcano eruption at night

The word „volcano” comes from the Roman fire god Vulcanus. The island Eoli Vulcano took its name after him. This volcano used to be regularly active in ancient times and was called a forge of the fire god. It is said that the eruptions were a sign of creating new weapon by the god.

Nowadays this term has lost its mythological meaning and simply defines the ejection of hot, molten rock onto the surface of the earth. Most volcanoes have a typical mountain shape.

Iceland volcano Eyjafjallajkull

Anyone who comes to see the volcanoes in Iceland, will probably start their trip in Askja volcano. This is where the moon-like landscape gives a rough idea on how devastating volcanic lava can be and can change the landscapes irreversibly.

However, when you think about volcanoes in Iceland, there is another name that comes to your mind. This very difficult name of a volcano you were not able to read on Google? That is the Eyjafjallajkull volcano which rests in Southern Iceland, west of the volcano Katla.

It belongs to a group of stratovolcanos and it is hidden under the glacier. For that reason it is also called a glacier volcano.

This glacier volcano is around 100 square kilometers (39 square miles) and it is the sixth largest in Iceland. It lays on 1651 meters (5427 feet) in the South Coast of Iceland. Its magma chambers are connected with Katla volcano, so in the case of an eruption of Eyjafjallajökull, there is a large possibility that the Katla eruption will follow. A Katla eruption unfortunately would have many unfavorable consequences as it is much more powerful and under a thick ice cap.

Is the Eyjafjallajkull volcano active or dormant

There are around 130 volcanoes in Iceland. Some of them are active volcanoes and other are dormant. It is said that under the island there are 30 active volcanic systems. Only the Westfjords have no active volcanoes. It is the oldest part of the island and it was pushed away from the Central Atlantic Ridge a long time ago. What is the result of that? Well, this is the only part of Iceland where they need to use the alternative forms of heating as they are not able to use their natural energy coming from the geothermal area.

Lava coming out of the Eyjafjallajokull  volcano during its last eruption in Iceland

Due to the specific geological location of Iceland on the Mid Atlantic Ridge on the border between North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, our little island is characterized by high volcanic activity. The two tectonic plates are moving away from each other making the magma rise and filling the space between them. This is a volcanic eruption.

It was volcano eruptions that had a particular impact on the appearance and formation of the island. Volcano eruptions in Iceland are quite unpredictable but quite regular.

In 2010 Eyjafjallajökull became famous and let itself known as a very dangerous volcano. This 2010 eruption will be long remembered as the one that caused much trouble and paralized the air travel in Europe as its result.

It all started already in March 2010, on the 27th of the month, the magma began to bubble from the surface and on the 14th of April, the ash was already starting to billow from the peak. Because of the possibility of the flood as a result of the magma ejection, over 800 people were evacuated from the neighbouring villages. People were advised to stay indoors, in their houses as a safety precaution. On the 15th of April the ash had already spread over the United Kingdom, and some parts of Germany.

The eruption was huge. It caused a large cloud of the volcanic ash that flooded the European sky. It caused the grounding of thousands of planes and passengers at the airports. The European countries were forced to close their airports and cancel the flights one by one. The volcano eruption was so powerful that it spewed up to 400 tons of dust per second. Around 40 milion square meters fell in the immediate vicinity of the volcano. The dust, however, is only one component of the volcanic eruptions.

Apart from the dust and volcanic ash, also magma flowed from the volcano. There were over 300 cubic meters per second at its peak. Compared to other eruptions, the overall amount of magma flowing was not that much but it still had its impact.

During the volcanic eruption there are also some gases that were ejected, like carbon dioxide. Volcanoes emit it much more than much of humanity combined. Scientists say that the amount of the carbon dioxide released was balanced with air traffic being paralyzed for few days.

Apart from air traffic being ceased and the flights cancelled, no one was injured in this volcano eruption in Iceland. Many farms were destroyed by the ash and flood and some of the people living in the South Coast were diagnosed with some respiratory issues but it is relatively small effect of the possible damage.

The view on the Eyjafjallajokull  volcano in Iceland with the dust coming out of it

Many tourist coming to Iceland wondered if there is any risk it can awaken again in the near future. At the moment it is entirely safe to visit and there are no indications of a possible awakening. It is  unlikely it will erupt again soon as there were hundreds of years between the 2010 eruption and the previous one. You can even visit the volcano and enjoy the magnificent view from Eyjafjallajökull. I do recommend though to start learing how to pronounce its name as the Icelandic and its meaning can be quite difficult!

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