June 16, 2012
When Next Big Iceland Volcanic Eruption Hits

Among the problems: dangerous gases in air flight corridors. But crop failures strike me as a bigger concern.

WASHINGTON—A modern recurrence of an extraordinary type of volcanic eruption in Iceland could inject large quantities of hazardous gases into North Atlantic and European flight corridors, potentially for months at a time, a new study suggests. Using computer simulations, researchers are investigating the likely atmospheric effects if a “flood lava” eruption took place in Iceland today. Flood lava eruptions, which stand out for the sheer amounts of lava and sulfurous gases they release and the way their lava sprays from cracks like fiery fountains, have occurred in Iceland four times in roughly the past thousand years, records indicate, the most recent being the deadly and remarkable eruption of Iceland’s volcano Laki in 1783-84.

In my view the human race has been lucky in terms of the severity of geological phenomena since the late 19th century. During the 19th century many more severe natural events occurred than was the case in the 20th. We might be overdo. Since Iceland volcanic eruptions on a similar scale to Laki in 1783-1784 have happened about 4 times in the last thousand years it should not surprise us if a similar eruption occurs in the 21st century.

When Laki sprang to life on June 8, 1783, it generated a sulfuric acid haze that dispersed over Iceland, France, England, the Netherlands, Sweden, Italy, and other countries. It killed a fifth of Iceland’s population and three-quarters of the island’s livestock. It also destroyed crops, withered vegetation, and sowed human disease and death in several Northern European nations. During the eight months that Laki erupted, the volcano blasted 122 million tons of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere – seven times more than did the 1991 Mt. Pinatubo eruption in the Philippines and approximately 50 to 100 times more per day than Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano released in 2010.

Well that does not sound like fun.

Today such an eruption would surely cause a couple of years of global cooling (just as the Mt Pinatubo eruption of 1991 cooled the lower atmosphere). The researchers in the latest report focus on aviation impacts. The air in some air lanes would become unhealthy for humans.

In the new simulations – focusing again on the first month of the eruption -- average daily concentrations of the droplets, in up to 10 percent of the air space, would exceed 10 times London’s average daily concentration of the corrosive pollutant, the researchers found.

Earth has so many volcanoes waiting to erupt. The next doozy might be a repeat of big eruptions in Nicaragua.

SELFOSS, ICELAND—Giant volcanic eruptions in Nicaragua over the past 70,000 years could have injected enough gases into the atmosphere to temporarily thin the ozone layer, according to new research. And, if it happened today, a similar explosive eruption could do the same, releasing more than twice the amount of ozone-depleting halogen gases currently in stratosphere due to man-made emissions.

So many ways to get whacked by our planet, sun, and asteroids.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2012 June 16 04:53 PM  Dangers Natural Geological


Comments
terrence said at June 16, 2012 5:36 PM:

Interesting article - I keep seeing more and more scientists talking about volcanoes, and the massive problems they could cause humans.
Cooling a a much bigger concern than some mild warming...

BTW, "overdo" S/B "overdue".

Rick Seufert said at June 18, 2012 8:23 AM:

Here is a website to monitor Katla in Iceland http://en.vedur.is/earthquakes-and-volcanism/earthquakes/myrdalsjokull/

Phillep Harding said at June 18, 2012 1:58 PM:

Terrence, agreed. Warming would be much easier to survive. Can't plant wheat or rice on a glacier. Of course, us melanin deficient types might have a problem.

Several caldera type eruptions are "due", especially Yellowstone. Don't know about flood types, never read up on them.

Phillep Harding said at June 19, 2012 9:44 AM:

In times of general social anxiety, we see a sharp increase in the number of people forecasting doom, gloom, and widespread death and destruction, and we see the rise of Millenarian type movements, both secular and religious, that promise to give people a way to escape.

We currently have some serious economic problems and a carefully cultivated crop of young, and very gullible, people wandering around, looking for something to believe in. As has been mentioned, the world has had fewer than usual natural disasters for the last 50 to 100 years. The return to normal is going to scare the bejesus out of the gullible, the terror is going to spread into those who have better sense, and we are going to see some seriously flawed laws passed "to help the people", but actually to increase the power and wealth of the ruling caste.

The "Global warming"/"climate change" scam was prepping for that, and the Occupy movement is a top down panic, similar to the German Brown Shirts Hitler so carefully nurtured (and exterminated during the Night of the Long Knives).

Soooo, the damage to the ecology a volcano would do, is just part of the danger we would face.

Rick Seufert said at June 19, 2012 10:35 AM:

Here is a website for Yellowstone Volcano http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/yvo/

Sgt. Joe Friday said at June 19, 2012 5:35 PM:

Not to mention earthquakes. Here where I live in southern California, we get a pretty good shake about once every 20 years (Long Beach 1933, Tehachapi 1952, Sylmar 1971, Northridge 1994), but the southern end of the San Andreas fault has been relatively quite since 1857, and some geologists talk about how the fault is "10 months pregnant." I keep 2 SHTF cases in my garage stocked with emergency supplies, but just the same, I'm not looking forward to it when it happens.

Rick Seufert said at June 22, 2012 10:26 AM:

Here are two articles on the Yellowstone Volcano. It's stirring a little, but it's always making some noise. And Katla is stirring too.

http://modernsurvivalblog.com/volcano/how-bad-would-a-yellowstone-eruption-be/

http://modernsurvivalblog.com/volcano/yellowstone-vibrations/

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