Eyjafjallajökull Update for 5/13/2010: Travel snarls ease over Europe
Activity at Eyjafjallajökull has settled down a little bit and wind patterns have helped get most of the airspace over Europe reopened. However, people are already predicting the "summer of ash".
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.
\nAn aerial view of Eyjafjallajökull erupting on May 11, 2010, with the extent of the black ash from the eruption on Gígjökull clearly evident, along with the cracks in the glacier near the lava flow. Photo from the Icelandic Met Office, by Sigurlaug Hjaltadóttir.
Since this past weekend's disruptions due to Eyjafjallajökull, the air over Europe has cleared and most of the airports in Spain, Portugal and Germany (along with those in Morocco) have reopened. The current ash advisory by the London VAAC looks like it will only effect transatlantic flights and Iceland itself, with the ash cloud stretching down the axis of the Atlantic Ocean. Of course, things could change quickly - and that is the constant threat that travelers in and around Europe will face while the volcano is erupting. This idea has prompted the EU to considering changing its ash avoidance rules for air travel.\n\n
The eruption itself hasn't changed dramatically since the explosive activity became reinvigorated over the weekend. The Icelandic Met Office reports that the ash cloud is slightly lower than in the past few days but still over 4-5 km (>13,000 feet) tall. They have posted a nice article on the ash plume with some photographs of how it changes. There were also more reports of lightning in the plume yesterday. You can see a number of timelapse videos of the volcano's activity over here, including FLIR thermal images. I want to offer a big tip o' the cap to everyone who has been putting together these timelapse videos - definitely helps me stay caught up on the activity at Eyjafjallajökull. Keep it up!
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