Monday, March 22, 2010
Fire and Ice
21 March 2010
A volcano erupted near the glacier Eyjafjallajokullin in Iceland, shooting up ash and molten lava and forcing the evacuation of hundres from nearby villages yesterday.
The eruption at the Eyjafjallajokull volcano, located near a glacier of the same name, shot ash and molten lava into the air but scientists called it mostly peaceful. It occurred just before midnight Saturday at a fissure on a slope — rather than at the volcano's summit — so scientists said there was no imminent danger that the glacier would melt and flood the area.
Scientists say it is difficult to predict what comes next. Like earthquakes, it is hard to predict the exact timing of volcanic eruptions.
This was a rather small and peaceful eruption but we are concerned that it could trigger an eruption at the nearby Katla volcano, a vicious volcano that could cause both local and global damage. This small eruption could bring about something bigger.
The last time there was an eruption near the 100-square-mile Eyjafjallajokull glacier was in 1821, and that was a "lazy" eruption — it lasted slowly and continuously for two years.
The eruption is taking place in an area that is relatively ice free, there is little chance of a destructive glacier burst like the one that washed away part of the east-west highway four years ago, after an eruption under the vast Vattnajoekull glacier.