Friday Flotsam: Pacaya, Eyjafjallajökull and Katla mongering
This week has been destroyed by workshops and my last death throes with a paper I am submitting on my research in New Zealand. And to think, I thought it might settle down a little after the students left.
Ash fall on a taxi cab near Guatemala's Pacaya.
- Pacaya in Guatemala erupted yesterday causing evacuations of people near the volcano and the closure of Guatemala City's main airport. Pacaya is a mere ~25 km from the capitol of this Central American nation. Tragically, a news reporter from one of the capitol's TV stations died when they were struck by volcanic debris, again reminding us that we can't get too comfortable when it comes to visiting or reporting on volcanic eruptions. Ash from Pacaya has been coating much of the region near the volcano as well (see video of the ash here). The president of Guatemala has declared a state of emergency due to the eruption.
- The airspace closures over Europe and the north Atlantic from Eyjafjallajökull apparently caused international air travel to dip 2.4% over April, while air travel in Europe dropped 11.7% according to a report by the Internation Air Transport Association (IATA). It seems that the airline industry is trying to prevent another closure of this scale - jet engine manufacturers are investigating what happens to their engines when they interact with ash to give better guidelines for ash concentrations. There is also research that suggests that the ash from Eyjafjallajökull was strongly electrically charged - in fact, it kept the charge upwards of 750 km from the vent. Previously, it was though such charges could only survive for distances of tens of km from the eruption source. As for Eyjafjallajökull itself, the eruption still appears to be in a state of quiescence, with little more than steam coming from the vent. This doesn't mean the eruption is over, but activity is definitely at a low point.
- Of course, this means the disaster-hungry media has been turning the Katla-mongering up to 11 with articles based on little-to-no facts or new data. A hint to everyone: until the Icelandic Met Office says anything, don't believe any report that suggests Katla will be erupting "soon".
- Finally, be sure to check out this week's volcano activity report from the Global Volcanism Program to catch up on all the rest of the week's eruptions around the world.