Iceland Volcano Erupts After 200 Years of Inactivity
Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano erupted on Saturday, forcing at least 500 people to evacuate. Most have returned home since, with the exception of 14 farms.
Although the eruption resulted in further tremors, spurts of lava and steam on Monday, there is bigger cause for concern. History dictates that when this particular volcano erupts, the Katla volcano will also erupt shortly after. The Katla volcano is located under the giant Myrdalsjokull glacier. An eruption of that magnitude will mean flooding disasters and major explosive blasts will ensue. It also means bad news for nearby countries.
Over 200 years ago, in 1783, the Laki volcano erupted. Gases from the eruption transformed into smog and this smog was carried across the ocean by the Jet Stream. The result was nothing short of unspeakable. UK residents died from gas poisoning, crops failed and famine spread. The following winter was one of the longest and coldest on record for North America.
To give a further idea of how bad the Katla eruption could be, according to Andy Russell, of the Newcastle University Earth Surface Processes Research Group, past Katla blasts have resulted in house-sized boulders tumbling down valleys and floods the size of the Amazon River tearing across towns and roads.
How soon Katla will erupt, no one can say for certain; but you can bet that scientists and Iceland residents will be keeping a careful watch on the volcano now.
By Heidi Marshall