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Deadlines and a new eruption in Eyjafjallajökull

Well, details from the Black Report continue to surface and I am feeling INTENSELY frustrated that I can’t report more things about it. If there was ever a time when I wished I could devote myself exclusively to writing this blog, this would be it. Instead I am scrambling to meet a deadline for one of my clients and time is short.

I will continue to try to dribble in news as far as possible — but in the meantime wanted to let you know that apparently a NEW eruption has started in Eyjafjallajökull glacier. The previous one died down yesterday, but now scientists are reporting a new caldera forming beneath the ice cap and changes happening literally minute-by-minute. There is already a flood from beneath Gígjökull [Crater Glacier] – a small outlet glacier from Eyjafjallajökull – and people in the area are being told to get the hell out of there. The Ring Road has been closed.

[PS – trying to do mini-updates on the Facebook page — you might consider joining us there if you haven’t already!]

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  • Joerg April 14, 2010, 12:43 pm

    The new eruption appears to happen underneath the icecap and might turn a bit nasty due to flooding. Apparently, the water levels of Markarfjlót have increased considerably. Hopefully, the new bridge over this river at the ringroad will not be damaged.

    I suppose, some people mentioned in the report might breathe a sigh of relief about this diversion.

  • Nancy April 14, 2010, 1:46 pm

    Good luck on the deadline. msnbc.com actually has a story about the eruption, with a link to a webcam of the area (although I couldn’t see a thing). http://eldgos.mila.is/eyjafjallajokull-fra-thorolfsfelli/. Nothing on the Black Report, but they’re all over Iceland’s weather. Sigh….

  • Maja April 14, 2010, 2:35 pm

    I look forward to you meeting your deadline!

  • kevin oconnor,waterford ireland April 14, 2010, 3:27 pm

    With this black report can Icelanders put the ICESAVE saga (yawn) behind them Icelandic volcanoes are lots more fun !!

  • Chris April 14, 2010, 5:20 pm

    @Joerg: They dugg holes into the ring road to protect the bridge. So far this has been successful.

  • Michael Lewis April 14, 2010, 6:08 pm

    “can Icelanders put the ICESAVE saga (yawn) behind them”
    Well, maybe they shouldn’t, this is interesting read:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financetopics/financialcrisis/7587359/Robert-Tchenguiz-was-Icelandic-banks-biggest-borrower.html


    At this time, the British regulator knew the bank was having liquidity problems and still allowed Kaupthing to set up retail operations attracting £2.5bn of deposits from UK savers in April – a move that is now under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office.

    If I were a taxpayer asked to bail out Kaupthing for a foreign power, I’d be particularly peeved that said foreign power’s regulator was negligent. So, Iceland seems perfectly reasonable in asking that the UK regulator cough up for its negligence.

    The nature of the relationship with a Mr Tchenguiz is also interesting.

  • Mike Richards April 14, 2010, 8:22 pm

    Get ahead of the crowd and start dropping the word ‘jökulhlaup’ into your conversations. It means ‘glacier burst’ and is a speciality of Iceland where volcanoes melt their summit glaciers and let loose a torrent of water. The last one was in 2004 from Grímsvötn under Vatnajökull and it did serious damage to the ring road.

    I was at Gígjökull last summer, I didn’t realise it was *quite* so close to the crater. So I guess this is going to make travel in and out of Þórsmörk almost impossible. Can anyone tell me what happens if the ring road remains closed – how do people and freight move across the south of the island?

    I’m not sure how thick the ice is at the top of the volcano, but the reports are that there is already an 8km plume of ash which is disrupting flights in and out of Iceland. It’s unusual for these volcanoes to blow through the ice quite so quickly, so this might be a big eruption.

    Stay safe folks!

  • Joerg April 14, 2010, 9:55 pm

    @Mike Richards: As far as I am aware, the Grimsvötn eruption of 2004 did not cause any considerable jökulhlaup – unlike the one of 1996, which did much damage to the ring road and destroyed several bridges across the Skeiðarásandur. Some of the remnants of those bridges can still be seen next to the road at Skaftafell.

  • idunn April 14, 2010, 11:08 pm

    If the time, would be interested in more details on the Ring Road.

    Presumably this is the highway 1 that encircles the island? Where exactly is it closed, and due safety concerns or flooding? Would imagine such a closure poses difficulties for those of southeastern Iceland in particular. How often has this happened in the past, for how long, and how dealt with?

  • Mike April 15, 2010, 12:07 am

    D’oh You’re right Joerg, it was the 1996 eruption I was thinking about.

    Katla’s 1918 eruption was the largest in Iceland in the past century and the only one from the mountain to be well documented. It dumped enough rubble to extend the coastline by 5km in places. Icebergs the size of office blocks were ripped out of the Mýrdalsjökull and left stranded on the low-lying area to the south. The ash fell in Northern Ireland and Scotland and poisoned livestock.

    But even 1918 was only a tenth as powerful as Katla’s eruption of 1755. Judging by the deposits the jökulhlaup left behind; at its peak the glacier was releasing as much water as the Amazon…
    …and the Nile…
    …and the Mississippi…
    …and the Yangtze.

    Katla had previously erupted with a similar force in 1721 – no wonder the area had such a terrifying reputation. The photos recently from the area around Skogar showing the reflected light of the eruption on the clouds are frightening enough today – what they were like before the days of cars, radios, phones and geologists can’t be imagined.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/orvaratli/4455619412/

    Katla is part of the same volcanic system as Laki, Eldgjá and Grímsvötn which is generally regarded as the most powerful active volcanic network on the planet – congratulations Iceland!

    Now to save some money so that I can get on a plane the next time your country decides to reshape itself.