Case study: Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano

Ash cloud above Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland

In April 2010 the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland erupted.

Facts about the eruption

  • The eruption started on 20 March.
  • A 500 metre fissure opened up.
  • The eruption happened underneath an ice sheet.
  • Dissolved gases in the molten rock along with steam generated from the melting ice caused a large column of volcanic ash.

Effects of the eruption within Iceland

  • Areas were flooded because of the glacier melt water which lay above the volcano.
  • Agricultural land was damaged, and farms were hit by heavy ash fall.
  • The ash fall poisoned animals in nearby farms.
  • Some roads were destroyed.
  • People were asked to stay indoors because of the ash in the air.

Effects of the eruption within Europe

  • Travel was severely disrupted as many flights were cancelled between 14 and 21 April 2010.
  • Businesses lost trade.
  • Air operators lost millions of pounds each day.
  • Perishable foods were wasted as they could not be transported.
  • People were not able to get to work because they were stranded.
  • The timing of the disruption was during the Easter holidays when levels of tourism are high.
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