Crater lake at Eyjafjallajökull
A new crater lake has been spotted at Eyjafjallajökull, adding to the treasure trove of volcanic features we've been able to see form first hand during this historic eruption.
I write the Eruptions blog on Big Think. I've been mesmerized with volcanoes (and geology) all my life. It helps that part of my family comes from the shadow of Nevado del Ruiz in Colombia, where I could see first hand the deadly effects of volcanic eruptions. Since then, I've taken a bit of a winding path to become a volcanologist. I started as a history major at Williams College, almost went into radio, but ended up migrating to geology, including an undergraduate thesis on Vinalhaven Island, Maine. I followed this up by changing coast to get my Ph.D. from Oregon State University. Then I ran a MC-ICP-MS lab at University of Washington for a spell (and wrote for an indie rock website). I spent three years as a postdoctoral scholar at University of California - Davis studying the inner workings of magmatic systems. I am now an assistant professor at Denison University and have projects in New Zealand, Chile and Oregon.
I am fascinated by volcanoes, their eruptions and how those eruptions interact with the people who live around the volcanoes. I started this blog after getting frustrated with the news reports of volcanic eruptions. Most of them get the information wrong and/or are just sensationalistic. I will try to summarize eruptions as they occur, translate some of the volcanic processes that are happening and comment on the reports themselves.
And no matter what people tell you, I definitely do not have a cat named Tephra. (OK, I do).
You can find out more about my research by visiting my website. If you have any comments, questions or information, feel free to contact me at eruptionsblog at gmail dot com.
\nThe crater lake at Eyjafjallajökull as seen on June 11, 2010. Image from the Icelandic Met Office by Sveinn Brynjólfsson.
After keeping us transfixed for almost two months this spring, Eyjafjallajökull has slowly drifted from the headlines. However, this doesn't mean that interesting things - volcanologically-speaking - have stopped happening at the Icelandic volcano. For one, a crater lake has now been spotted at the summit vent of the volcano. This lake is steaming vigorous, but at the end of last week, the Icelandic Meteorological Office and the Institute of Earth Sciences declared that no magma is interacting with the crater lake - only steaming from the hot rocks surrounding this small (and likely ephemeral) body of water. The lake is only about 300 meters across (see above) and has a steam plume rising from it that can reach upwards of 1000 meters.\n\n
The volcano itself is pretty quiet - only steaming and the very rare phreatic explosions due to water flashing to steam near the hot vent. However, a lot of the loose, unconsolidated sediment produced by the two months of explosive eruptions at Eyjafjallajökull mean that heavy rain can remobilize that material, producing lahars (which do not need to be triggered by an eruption - they only need to be made from volcanic material). These lahars not only bring sediment and water downstream that can cause damage to property (and kill people if they have not been evacuated) but the shallowing of river beds means that flooding by simple river discharge is more likely as well. This is a problem that the area around the volcano will likely face in the coming months.\n\n
There have also been some interesting ramifications of the eruption. For one, Icelanders are finding uses for the copious ash produced in the eruption, such as reinforcement for concrete. The Romans used ash to help make building materials and it allows for lighter, stronger concrete. However, the lack of activity at the volcano also means that tourism to Iceland has dropped as the summer arrives - I suppose people only want to see a volcano at its best (or the fact that people have a short attention span).
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