The Possible Impact of the Icelandic Volcanoes on Energy Production

While it is early in the morning in Europe the following picture shows the impact of the volcano in Iceland on European air traffic (as of Thursday), if you compare Northern (none) and Southern (60) European flights. The blue crosses are airports. The volcano has already had a stunning impact on Europe, although articles about it are already dropping below the lead headlines.

There is a thought that the plume may last another five days, and even though the cloud is largely invisible to those who are being impacted by it, the damage by neglecting these precautions could be severe. And given that the British election is on May 6th, the impact of a sustained eruption on the debates in the UK, and the result may go beyond just limiting the travel of those who would campaign, to become more dominant with the length of the flight curtailments and the responses to help resolve what are likely to be growing transportation problems.

Status of flights over Europe on April 15 (flight radar 24).

The presence of sulphur dioxide is already obvious to local residents, though there don't appear to be any concerns over its toxicity. This is the toxicity information given by


The larger eruptions of Katla, have ejected up to 1.5 x 10^9 cu m of material with a Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) of up to 5. For comparison Mt Pinatubo in 1991 ejected 1.1 x 10^10 cu m with a VEI of 6.

The Times has an interesting graphic that shows some of the concerns and I am going to use a bit of it to show that the problem may be a little bigger than even the article suggests.

To begin with recognize that Iceland is at the intersection of different plates that together form the shell of the planet. Whereas in some parts of the world these plates are pushing together and riding over each other, in this part of the world they are tending more to separate, so that the magma, on which the plates ride, can make its way up along the joint planes and erupt at the surface.

Map of Iceland showing major volcanoes (The Times of London)

Now what the picture is concerned about is that generally when Eyjaflallajokull erupts so does Kalta, which is right next door. But Katla is a larger system and the eruption is generally much more severe.

Unfortunately what has also to be considered is that there are a whole line of craters, not shown on this map, between Katla and Vatnajokull, which are also a worry. Laki, an even greater threat than Katla, lies along this line.

Iceland's Laki volcano erupted in 1783, freeing gases that turned into smog. The smog floated across the Jet Stream, changing weather patterns. Many died from gas poisoning in the British Isles. Crop production fell in western Europe. Famine spread. . . . . . .

The winter of 1784 was also one of the longest and coldest on record in North America. New England reported a record stretch of below-zero temperatures and New Jersey reported record snow accumulation. The Mississippi River also reportedly froze in New Orleans.

It is at the orange flag in this picture.

(Google Earth)

There is a line of eruption calderas from Katla up to Laki, which is up around Skaftareldar.

The 3.5 earthquake I wrote about on Bit Tooth Energy lies beyond Laki on the line from Eyjaflallajokull, and was centered further north in the Vatnajokull. Some have blamed the weather created by the eight-month eruption of Laki as a possible contributory cause to the French Revolution.

An eruption of that length, ejecting as much material as it may into the atmosphere, would have consequences that go beyond just the ability to survive the noxious gaseous clouds.

The impact of the dust is shown in this picture from the British Met Office, which shows that plume reaching down past Scotland:

Dust cloud passing Scotland (Met Office)

And the consequent distribution at different levels of the atmosphere.

High and low level ash distribution (Met Office via the Guardian)

The agriculture of Europe would be damaged by a prolonged eruption with this distribution, and with it the possible production of biodiesel. Consider that the growth of rapeseed (canola) around the world has been steadily rising over the past few years.

With European countries sitting just behind the leaders.

Somewhere over 4 million metric tons of the crop currently goes to producing biodiesel, mainly in Europe. (Heading up towards 100,000 bd). Losing a year of that crop (and large scale volcanic activity can have an impact for over four years on the climate and the ground chemistry), particularly given the current possible approach of the peaking of conventional oil production, could have an unanticipated impact on overall liquid fuel availability and price.

Unfortunately rapeseed is only one of the crops that will be affected, and the significant drop in crop yields does not appear to be getting much attention yet.

Beyond that, there should be a little concern for the wind turbines that are now dotted over the horizon. The concern is with the speed at which the tips travel through the air. The air, that looks clean, will contain small particles of very sharp glass and other volcanic ejecta, that are the primary cause for the grounding of aircraft across Europe. While the aircraft can see very sudden loss in engine power, because of the high speeds with which they encounter the clouds, and the volumes of debris sucked into engines that then fail. (There are also video explanations.)

Wind wing tip speeds have been projected to be in the range from 264 ft/sec to 326 ft/sec. At impact speeds over 120 ft/sec the particles from the eruption will start to erode the blades of the turbine. If the eruption continues for weeks, and the turbines rotate in that atmosphere (which looks clear to normal vision) then they will lose surface quality, and perhaps the particles will enter into the generators (as they do on aircraft) doing significant damage.

Thus, beyond the initial inconvenience of the loss of a way to fly (bearing in mind I am supposed to fly to Europe myself soon), there are the longer concerns over both the crops this summer and for the next four, and for the longer term health of the turbines. All in all it is a reminder that there is never a time that Nature, with a little nudge, cannot remind us of the risks of complacency.

Thanks, Heading Out!

I wonder how all of this compares to the "vog" being experienced on THe Big Island of Hawaii because of the ongoing eruption of Kilauea since 1983. It would seem like the amount of material being spewed is less in Hawaii, at least on a long term basis.

I found this information from the USGS about the air pollution in Hawaii:

The aerosol in vog is composed primarily of sulfuric acid and other sulfate compounds. Small amounts of several toxic metals, including selenium, mercury, arsenic, and iridium, have also been found in the volcanic air pollution coming from Kilauea. Far away from the volcano, such as along the Kona coast on the Island of Hawaii's west side, aerosol particles dominate vog, but near Kilauea SO2 gas is a major component of vog.
. . .

The tiny sulfuric acid droplets in vog have the corrosive properties of dilute battery acid. When atmospheric moisture is abundant, these droplets combine with it and fall as acid rain, damaging plants and accelerating the rusting of metal objects such as cars, industrial and farm equipment, and building components. However, in drier conditions, such as those that prevail on Hawaii's Kona coast, the acid aerosols in vog may actually impede the formation of raindrops, resulting in decreased summer rainfall for crops and drinking water. Vog can also mix directly with moisture on the leaves of plants and in less than a day cause severe chemical burns. Farmers on the Island of Hawai`i have suffered losses even to crops in greenhouses, because vog can enter through the air vents.

Many homes on the Island of Hawai`i rely on rooftop rainwater-catchment systems to provide their drinking water. In 1988, the drinking water of nearly 40% of homes using such systems in the Kona Districts of the island was found to be contaminated with lead leached by acid rain from roofing and plumbing materials, such as nails, paint, solder, and metal flashings. Tests confirmed that the blood of some residents of these homes had elevated lead levels, leading to a major island-wide effort to remove lead-bearing materials from rainwater-catchment systems.

The climate forcing of volcano eruptions in relation to CO2 and other radiative forcings can be seen on this graph:

See the spikes of stratospheric aerosols from various events

The financial losses of the airlines due to this volcano event mean that in the next oil crunch they will be even more vulnerable to oil price shocks.

If these eruptions continue for weeks or months, airlines may already hit the wall before the next oil price shock expected for 2012. We also don't know yet which damage there would be to the economy as a result of the absence of air freight.

Some good webcams of volcano at and (two other viewpoints selectable at this link).

Here's a more recent air traffic display from

17th April 1330 GMT/UTC/Zulu

Is this the same Europe ( containing the 'PIGS') which we have been hearing about recently, teetering on the edge of financial ruin and bankruptcy and requiring just one more little shove to push it over the edge?

What will happen to the flightless PIGS?

We Spanish pigs are doing very well, thank you very much. In fact, Spain is (mostly) open to air traffic (local flights in the north stopped for a couple of hours, now back to normal) towards the West, to the USA, Latinamerica, Africa, Australia and other parts of the world.
Flights towards the East, that is Europe and Great Britain, are off at the moment, but the trains and buses of course go.
So, if you are stranded in Orlando, Florida and have to go back to England, say, or Germany, your best bet is to take a plane to Madrid, or Alicante, and then go wherever you want to go by train, bus, hired car, whatever. Cycle, walk.
At least in Spain, pigs fly and the rain (of ash) doesn't fall on the plain.

Not serious yet. It will be a real problem if tourists can't fly here in summer.

Curiously, I am sure our UK members have noticed the unbroken blue sky every day since the aviation ban [no vapour trails/particles..?]

This is unusual for the last 2 decades where Spring is usually a non event. Admittedly the low humidity winter was already morphing into a low humidity spring [sunny+cloudy/low rainfall], but the instant blue skies are quite a shocker. I also think you can see a faint brown haze near the horizon.

A shame we have to go back to drizzle so that scum can avoid video-conferencing.

Noted the very same thing. No contrails, no high level cloud, no noise (!), solar PV producing at max

Contrails and noise are gone, and indeed all clouds, but I suspect the extra bright blue is more due to extra scattering by the dust than the lack of contrails. Where I am I have seen a few private aircraft flying at around a thousand feet.

The 9/11 study showed that if you remove a contributor to global dimming, jet contrails, just for a three-day period, we see an immediate response of the surface temperature. Do the same thing globally, we might see a large-scale increase in global warming.

This is rather interesting.
Does European jet travel produces more dimming than Icelandic volcano?
Without our polluting fossil fuels we will be roasted but our GHG will also roast us.
If Peak Oil happens there may be overwelming global 'undimming'.

The mind boggles.

solar PV producing at max

Mine isn't, it seems to be covered with a very fine layer of volcanic ash!

Pollen over here! Tons of it. Time to get out the garden hose.

Mine was doing crappy a few weeks back. I never saw any mention of it, but I suspect it was dust from the massive Chinese duststorms from the other side of the big pond. My panels were also dusty, but rain was in the forcast, so I let nature do the cleaning for me. Our water is notoriously hard, I want to minimize PV cleanings, and haven't yet purchased the squeege on a long pole that I hope can prevent water deposit buildups.

Did you see my quote above from the USGS report on the Hawaii vog:

However, in drier conditions, such as those that prevail on Hawaii's Kona coast, the acid aerosols in vog may actually impede the formation of raindrops, resulting in decreased summer rainfall for crops and drinking water.

If something similar is happening near the UK, there may be a connection between the acid aerosols and the clear skies. I am not sure about this though--when I visited in one area of Hawaii (probably not the area being discussed), the vog was like a low cloud, quite different from what you are seeing in the UK.

Typically we have wind from the South West so wetish from the Atlantic but recently it has been from North East so drier and less cloudy. Things will probably revert in a few days so flights will resume but until then i will enjoy the unusual peace in my garden very close to the flight path of London Heathrow.

As far as air travel goes, this is where Europe's rail system, especially their incomplete high speed rail system can keep mobility going.

As far as Trans-Atlantic travel goes, as long as planes can get into Spain (or even Turin or Milan), there are high speed connections (some sections still under construction) to London, Paris, Frankfurt, Berlin, etc.

Not as convenient and it would be difficult, on short notice, to replace 100% of the volume.

Best Hopes for Rail,


Note even the thin lines can do 200+ kph

As far as air travel goes, this is where Europe's rail system, especially their incomplete high speed rail system can keep mobility going.

Yes and no. Sure it is a good thing to have the rail networks but even they are now completely booked up for days. The EuroStar from Paris to London is totally sold out until Tuesday. There is no way the same number of people (and baggage) could be moved solely by rail if the airplanes where grounded for longer. Plus the price of a ticket will sky rocket.

On short notice, rail does not keep enough excess capacity "on hand" to replace air. Still it preserves mobility (even at lower volumes).

With long notice (say oil prices skyrocketing) HSR could take most of the intra-EU traffic without any oil at all.

Several HSR projects are underway today (Spain-France link under the Pyrenees) and will be operational within a couple of years. But if we have massive shortfalls by 2014 (Tom Whipple) or 2015 (Pentagon) few "drawing board" projects will be operational.

March 11, 2010 -
Plans for a new high-speed rail network, featuring 250mph trains, have been announced by Transport Secretary Lord Adonis.

The government is recommending a route for a new line between London and Birmingham with a future extension to northern England and Scotland.

The public will be consulted on the proposed route, with work unlikely to start until 2017 at the earliest.

Best Hopes for Late Solutions,


Years of doing all my long-distance UK travelling by train have made me cynical. I haven't heard anything yet, but I'm waiting for Virgin/Great Wester/Railtrack/whoever to come up with "The wrong kind of ash covering the signals" or some such rubbish. Still, they may surprise me...

If the effluent from the volcano is as abrasive and/or corrosive as reported, what effect might this have on rail systems? Might the rail operators have to reduce or shut down service to save the tracks?

Steel rails will not be bother by that. The explosiveness and abrasion are overstated (way).

The problem with jet engines is that they melt the ash and then is re-solidifies in some bad places inside the jet engine.

Iceland has lived with these volcanoes for 1,200 years (telephone books have volcano instructions inside). Right now a run on air filters in West Iceland, but that is about it.



I wonder what the effect on petroleum consumption will be in the face of a sustained series of eruptions in Iceland. Europe as a whole consumed 852.99 kb/d of jet fuel in 2006 (EIA); for 2008 UK/Belgium/France/Germany/Netherlands accounted for 404.01 kb/d (no annual number given for Europe as a whole), in 2006 389.7 kb/d so 45.7% of the total. How often would these eruptions occur, how long will it take to clean up after them?

It doesn't look so far like "minor" eruptions such as this would knock things out for as much as a month, they plan to start things up in the UK at 1800 GMT Sunday for instance. But no doubt this will all be pure poison for cautious travelers.

UPDATE 1-US jet fuel down on volcano travel ban | Markets | Reuters

* Early U.S. jet fuel prices called quarter-cent lower

* Prices could weaken more on air travel ban

(Updates with trade association information)

TORONTO, April 16 (Reuters) - U.S. jet fuel prices were pegged softer on Friday in reaction to trans-Atlantic travel disruptions caused by a huge ash cloud from an Icelandic volcano, trade sources said on Friday.

With the airspace in Northern Europe closed to traffic, thousands of planes sit idle on runways across the continent, causing the largest travel disruption since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. [ID:nNSGE63FO2E]

"In addition, some reduction in demand must presumably occur in countries with long-haul flights to Europe similarly canceled. The most obvious impact will be seen in the U.S. ...," JP Morgan said in a morning note.

I don't see that it should cause any trouble with rail travel. All the old steam trains in Britain used to have a sand box which they could release sand from onto the rail to improve grip. the thing that causes most trouble are leaves on the track making them lose traction.

This volcano is also changing sport!

The referee who was due to ref the Manchester United versus Manchester City game was stuck in Bulgaria so a different ref was drafted in for the game. In the dying seconds of extra time United score which could be the three points they need to keep their title challenge alive and competitive with Chelsea. Now, if the intended ref had made it back he might have blown the whistle slightly earlier and Chelsea might now still be three points clear at the top of the table.

So, if Chelsea do lose out to United they have only Iceland to blame.


At least the players can now hear the ref's whistle.

The Possible Impact of the Icelandic Volcanoes on Energy Production

Im guessing is outweighed by its impact on energy Consumption.....

Indeed, why would grounding jet flights impact production?
I can understand consumption going down.

Heading Out talks about impacts on Rapeseed (used for biofuel) and on wind turbines.

Helicopters are used for servicing both wind turbines and oil and gas platforms. If they are not able to fly for an extended period, I could see some connection (but probably boats could take over some of the functions).

Also, if the sulphur is corrosive, it could affect above-ground parts on North Sea oil and gas production, I would think.

If this event continues and has a cooling effect, next winter may be colder than last, requiring increased need for heating oil, gas and electricity.

Is it my imagination or is there a marked increase in geological activity - earthquakes and now volcanoes - around the world in the past few years.

Is this normal?
Are there any implications?

There is a truly, world-shatteringly terrifying implication: Roland Emerich films may actually become viewed as less spectacle-disconnected-from-reality in coming years.

(Sorry, couldn't resist.)

Just the warm up act before December 21st, 2012.

The world is about to explode. I have had my sandwich board straps replaced so it is more comfortable. Still haven't decide on the wording yet. It is a toss up between: "The end is nigh!!" or "Golf Sale, next left.."


While it seems that we are getting a lot of volcanic and earthquake activity recently, I do not believe that there are any meaningful implications from an earth systems and geological perspective. The Iceland volcano eruption and earthquake activity are only slightly related events.

Iceland is a spreading center on the mid-Atlantic ridge where convecting mantle rises to constantly produce new oceanic crust. The context here is that it should surprise nobody that volcanic eruptions occur--the question is why they don't occur more often or continuously.

The earthquakes are different because they occur either where crustal plates are sliding past each other (strike-slip or transform movement) as in Haiti and Tibet, or where plates are converging and subducting as in Chile and Indonesia. Earthquakes result from strain accumulation as plates move relative to each other. We have good information on relative plate motions. What we don't know is how long it will take for strain accumulation to result in rupture.

Strike-slip/transform earthquakes have a shallow crustal focus and, therefore, give little warning and have a high-frequency effect. Subduction earthquakes have a deep crustal focus and often provide some warning (so inhabitants can get out of buildings etc when they feel the resonance), and have a lower frequency effect.

For some figures to illustrate some of the points mentioned above, please see the article at this link:


Great answer, Thanks!
I get the sense you have spent quite a bit of time in this field. Just what I was looking for.

According to the Norse Eddas, what we are witnessing are the effects of the world tree Yggdrasil shaking and the Midgard serpent Jormungandr writhing, in preparation for the final battle of Ragnarok. Things are expected to really go south when that nasty wolf Fenrir arrives on the scene. The good news is that after being totally destroyed and drowned, the earth will be reborn and there will be two survivors, Lif and Lifprasir, who will repopulate the world. It’s just one theory, but it’s probably as good as any at this point.

I have looking at this theory as well. Could it be that the Norse used this story as a way to explain geolical events concerning volcanic eruptions in Iceland? If so we could go back to the story and use it to predict what comes next. Three roosters crow: Volcanos? Crimson, Golden, Soot.
Crimson: the one currently blowing, Golden: Kalta, and the final and most terrible btewwen them Soot: Laki=Loki? which killed many and caused failed crops, low temps worldwide back in 1782?
Just an idea

I think the tectonic plates have decided to shake up the irritating fleas on their backs a bit...better hold on tight.

There is a marked increase in earthquake activity that has happened to occur near large human populations. This was addressed elsewhere (DailyKos overnight news digest?) and there has been no statistically significant increase, just really bad luck for people in Haiti and Chile and so forth.

The boys and girls at USGS keep right up to date on the shakers, looks like a bunch little three plusses in Baja the last couple hours, something is always going on. Then in my neighbborhood on north end of the ring of fire the The Alaska Volcanic Observatory keeps watch on the exploding mountains.

This related link from today's Drumbeat is interesting:

Ice cap thaw may awaken Icelandic volcanoes

My warped theory of the day:

Volcanos (and GW) melt the ice, releasing more eruptions, blocking the sun, creating a mini ice age, restoring the ice caps, supressing the volcanos........... all is well.

Volcanos (and GW) melt the ice, releasing more eruptions, blocking the sun, creating a mini ice age, restoring the ice caps, supressing the volcanos........... all is well.

Sounds like Gaia's revenge! Any link to the financial maelstrom? Glacier meltdown. Bank meltdown. Hmmm...

William M. Isaac says "greed is a force of nature." Just like gravity. Or magma for that matter. Explains away many of the latest volcanoes.

With all press attention on poor 'stranded' tourists with nothing to do in Paris, London or Rome, almost nothing is said about air-freight.
Europe imports lots of fresh veggies and fruits from Africa this time of year. African farmers aren't the only victims. Industry today, works on 'just-in-time' delivery. Soon, factories across Europe will close for lack of parts.

We won't know for some time how demand (oil) has been effected. Unlike the US Energy Information Agency (EIA) breakdowns, issued Wednesdays,
No other country is as transparent. Oil prices went south Friday and everyone blamed Goldman/Slacks 2007 crime spree. One CNBC wag even blamed the govt for releasing incitement news, mid-trading session. Still alert at 75, I sold my oil ETF's Thursday when I realised the potential impact of grounding hundreds of long haul aircraft. I did his because all traders sell oil whenever there is bearish news.
After a few nights sleeping on the subject, I realised impact on oil demand may not be as great as feared. The answer could be in extra ground transport. Trains in Europe, unlike those in India, have very civilised limits. Booked up trains mean booked up auto rentals. No car rentals mean busses
Take on extra passengers. Full busses, sold out auto rentals, over the road heavy trucks, even long haul taxis, mean increased gasoline and diesel use.

We humans, with our high tech, oil driven economies, think we are all powerful.... Until that "Black Swan" swims by.

Perhaps we will dodge a bullet This Time. In the end, geology wins every time.

Volcanos (and GW) melt the ice, releasing more eruptions, blocking the sun, creating a mini ice age, restoring the ice caps, supressing the volcanos........... all is well.

There is some justification to the speculation that reducing the pressure by melting off an icecap might trigger eruptions. I don't think enough is known about the eruption process to know how big the effect is. However outside of Iceland and parts of Antarctica there aren't many volcanoes covered by thick ice. I'm assuming the ice on steep sided volcanoes isn't very thick, as glacier flow is driven by the slope -so normal snow covered on top volcanoes probably don't apply.

eos -- I recall quit a few years ago a volcano erupted below a glacier and not slope ice in Iceland. I haven't seen enough details on this recent one to characterize. But the earlier one melted enough of the glacier that boulders the size of small building were tumbles down the normally shallow streams.


Imagine finding an iceberg in your pasture, and it takes a decade to melt away.


eos -- I recall quite a few years ago a volcano erupted below a glacier and not slope ice in Iceland.

Precisely. If it were a steep sided volcanoe, the glacier would have been thin (a few tens of meters), bacause ice flows like a plastic solid and a stress of roughly an atmosphere (about ten meters of ice), is enough to make it flow. So a steep glacier will be about that thick. But a broad plataeu-like icecap can be much thicker as the surface slope of the ice is low. Also GW melts glaciers by raising the snowline. On a steep one a rise of say a hundred meters for the snowline, you don't have to go very far. But for an icecap, you gotta go a long way to gain/lose a hundred meters.

If I remember correctly the water discharged into the Atlantic was said at it maximum to have been equal to the discharge of the Amazon.

While there is no doubt that volcanic dust can rapidly play havoc with the delicate internals of a jet engine, I really have a difficult time seeing how they would cause serious damage to a wind turbine blade, particularly if the high levels of dust only last several days or even a week or so.

First off, these particles are very small, so it's not like the blades are being sand blasted ....more like talcum powder blasted.

Second, even though the blades tips might be moving at several hundred feet per second, there is still a finite boundary layer of relatively stagnant air over the surface, so the blade's surface doesn't really 'see' the high bulk air velocity. (This phenomenon can be readily observed by driving a dusty car at 80 mph and finding that the high air velocity has dislodged hardly any of the dust.)

Third, there are now thousands of land-based wind turbines operating in the plains states of the US, where dust storms are not uncommon. Yet, I am not aware of any of these turbines being put out of commission due to blade damage caused by dust. Getting dust into the gears and generator is a whole other matter, but due to the way the gearboxes are generators are sealed, I doubt this would become a problem during relatively short dust episodes.

Unless I'm missing something, the worst damage I would expect would be that some of the blades might need a new paint job sooner than planned.

If the eruption only lasts a few days or a week then you are certainly correct. Unfortunately the history of the Icelandic volcanoes does not give much grounds for such optimism. When it last went the eruption lasted two years apparently, and Katla has been showing some of the uplift that presages it erupting sequentially.

Erosion of this type usually has an incubation period, depending on the nature of the particles, their velocity etc, and there is the added problem here of the possibility of corrosion adding to the damage. Erosive damage increases as the square of impact velocity, so it should be an interesting experiment over time (depending on the length of the eruption) to observe the spread of damage from the tip down the rotor.

There have been some reports that the ash cloud is no longer stretching as high into the atmosphere, and so the cloud may no longer reach Europe. However these eruptions often go in fits and starts, so that there may be a number of impacts that can't yet be quantified. Crop failures won't happen from just a week of eruption, but if you look at the historic data, European crops have failed during and after Icelandic eruptions, and the impact can spread to America, as also it has done in the past, if these eruptions become more severe.

Having just posted this, I checked with Eruptions which is a blog by a geologist interested in magma, and where there is a a daily update , and the eruption is still going strong apparently.

He does comment on the debate that has started (courtesy of Scientific American ) on whether or not this has anything to do with global warming and the melting of the icecap in a separate post . And while attaching "climate change" to any scientific proposal going into Washington may be the only way to get funding at the moment, he points out, as most rational folk would think, that there are other causes of geological events. Given where Iceland lies, and the history of volcanoes on the Island, and how the land gains mass, it might serve general discussion more fruitfully if this was not seen as yet another piece of evidence that this is all due to man's actions.

The glaciers of Iceland are melting at a truly alarming rate (I have seen them and seen the hydrology reports for summer melt) . Reducing the overburden will promote geophysical activity (common sense), but, IMHO, only speedup what was going to happen anyway.

If humanity burned 1/10th the coal that we do, this eruption would have happened anyway, but perhaps in 2011 or 2012.


If humanity burned 1/10th the coal that we do, this eruption would have happened anyway, but perhaps in 2011 or 2012.

I concur with Alan. Decreasing ice cover probably advances the eruption timetable a bit, but it is pretty unlikely to be a cause rather than a trigger for something that was getting ready to go soon.

If you were to look you would find that the plates that Iceland sits on are separating at about an inch a year. As a result there are regular eruptions along the line between the two (see second picture). In relative terms the weight of the ice is inconsequential to this failure, which is entirely caused by that lateral movement.

Lifting an overburden of so many tonnes/m2 over a large area (especially if the rock underneath is considered plastic) will have a geophysical effect (just as adding 100+ ppm of CO2 does to our climate).

Yes, the reduced force is vertical, but so is the movement of magma.

In the case of vulcanology, the impact is not measureable by science, but it is wrong to assert that there is no impact. Relatively small impacts (especially if at right angles to the dominant force#) can alter the tipping points.

#If reduced ice mass was in the same direction as the shift in the plates, I could see it being swamped by the larger force. But not at right angles.

Basic scientific/engineering common sense,


With respect we do lab work, and field work in this area - high pressure/velocity fluid flow through geotechnical material (I use the term to include both soil and rock). The pressures on the rock are insufficient to make it plastic, that comes from the heat, The mechanisms of flow require passage ways to exist, but these are much more easily generated in tension - yes we have done the experiments, in a wide variety of rocks. Do I still have the data - you should read an earlier post of mine on University policies in regard to the retention of data, I have just filled several dumpster loads with this sort of material, preparing my office for my successor. This particular work was, however done at the end of the 70's and into the early '80's and so, if you look hard enough you may find it.

The rock is already plastic from the heat (go just a few hundred meters down in East Iceland and temps are up +7 to +10 C, go deeper and it is hotter; i.e. a quite steep temperature gradient).

Did you measure the impact on channeling by reducing compression ? (For non-engineers, compression is the opposite of tension).

If you did, and you found no effect (i.e. not just a minor impact) on plastic igneous rocks/geomaterial, then I will concede.


PS: I forgot about the gas coming out of solution, mentioned below

Thanks for those links, Dave. Especially interested in the paper analyzing deglaciation and renewed vulcanism in the Cascades, which are kitty corner to me.

If you were to look you would find that the plates that Iceland sits on are separating at about an inch a year. As a result there are regular eruptions along the line between the two (see second picture). In relative terms the weight of the ice is inconsequential to this failure, which is entirely caused by that lateral movement.

In the grand scheme of things for sure. But, imagine you are a slowly rising blob of magma. As you rise within the crust over probably thousands of years you are under enough pressure that your dissolved gases (CO2 water vapour, apparently some hydrogen floride for Icelandic magma) is easily contained. Eventually you get close enough to the surface that the pressure of the remaining earth plus ice is less than the pressure of your dissolved gases. They come out of solution. This can help you escape in two ways. One your volume now increases, your density drops. It was the fact that you are lighter than the surrounding rocks that drive your ascent.. Or, you simply got enough pressure to blow the remaining rocks out of the way. Take away the ice, and the depth of this "tipping" point rises. If you are quietly sitting just below your eruptive depth, and someone removes some ice, it just might be enough.

Its really a matter, of how the icemelt caused rate of descent of this "eruptive" depth compares to the ascent rate of the magma. If the magma rises slowly, then remove say a hundred meters of ice might be equivalent to hundreds or thousands of years of slow rise, and presumably glacial melt might allow all the eruptions that would have ocurred over the next several hundred or several thousands of years to happen within perhaps a century. But, if magma rises quickly ( ie. several meters per year), then the time advance caused by ice removal might not be very long. I don't think we know how fast magma rises. So we can't easily say whether the effect is a big deal, or just a tiny effect.

The magma flows upwards through passages that are generated in the rock that is already there, but which are opened by the lateral earth movement (hence the linear nature of the calderas along the eruption line). You can get a measure of where the magma is by the depth of some of the earthquakes, and typically at the moment these are occurring at some km below the surface. It is a little more difficult with this type of volcano to be as predictive as is the case with others. But the magma velocity upwards is a bit faster than you imply.

For the most part much of the world's production of mechanical energy can go on with this volcano with the possible exception of drilling platforms which engage in a lot of helo ops. What is of more concern would be
the impact on food production, if any. Having roamed about iceland a bit, offroad, on top of glaciers etc,
the place is a seismic disney land everywhere. If Kalta blows then i'm taking my sons to Costco and load up
because it is certainly going to impact the price of food.

I'm hoping that oldfarmermac posts, as my experiences are modest on my 160 acres compared to his. Since I am
oriented towards "market farming" with wine grapes, orchards, free range chickens, and various experimental
grains, I can tell you that weather, sun, rain, temperature have dramatic impact on various crops in various years. I barely got a small to medium crop out of tomatos before "the rot" took the plants, due to the
significant rains we had last year. It will be interesting to see the impact of this incredibly warm march will be, if I had to guess I'd say many more insects.

Any signficant Kalta blow would have a marked impact on crops, while i'm much more familiar with pennsylvania
crop mixes, even with this current blow I'd look to see what Scottish oats production looks like in a couple of months.

I do not like the hyperbole regarding Katla. The Katla volcano has been erupting on average 2 times every century. Yes it is possible Katla could have a bad effect on the climate if the eruption is large but the chances are miniscule. Most of Katla eruptions are not that large. The floods could do some local damage but nothing very serious because not many people in Iceland live nearby (only a few farms). But the possibility exists of course.

I live in Reykjavik and life is normal here as the ash cloud is going south and east away from Iceland. I feel bad for the few farmers who live south of Eyjafjallajökull volcano (by the roots of the mountain really). The ash cloud has been so thick that no day has come. It is like an apocalypse for those farmers and animals. The birds give noises and are confused. It´s really sad.

Some pictures of the ash cloud in Iceland. These pictures are taken in the middle of day:

I don't want to upset you, but some of the folk that are most concerned about the Katla eruption are vulcanologists in Iceland. (check the comments in the MSM). Katla has not seen a serious eruption since 1918, and as you note it has had 25 major eruptions in 1200 years, given a mean interval of 48 years. There have been measurement of the mountain swelling, which is often a precursor to eruption. The wind does not always blow in the same direction, and there have been some comments that it is changing direction already, and may be more into the Arctic by the end of the week. But as folk in Southern England have found, the patterns generate swirls so that while London has ash falling, Glasgow, which is closer to Iceland, does not.

Eyjafjallajokul typically erupts with a VEI of 1, Katla at 5, there are not that many warming signs.

I´m well aware of the dangers of volcanoes as I live in Iceland (Volcano land), especially Katla. Everybody is worried about Katla. I´m just saying that most eruptions in Katla have not been catastrophic. The last truly catastrophic eruption in Katla was Eldgjá in 934. Most eruptions in Katla are also rather short (different from Eyjafjallajökull), even though they are powerful. I also want to point out that in the last 30 years we have had a number of subglacial eruptions, some more powerful than the current eruption, and most of them have not produced as much ash as Eyjafjallajökull has done this time. Anything can happen though as this is nature. Funny thing is I hiked to the top of Eyjafjallajökull last year.

I think this depends on your point of view. Perhaps you are viewing this only from Iceland where

Through the ages many farms have been swept away by Katla eruptions with that of 1311 being recorded as particularly damaging. A farmer named Sturla is said to have survived with his young son by clinging to an iceberg which later drifted back to shore. An eighteenth century eruption killed several people while others were stranded for days on mountains that turned to islands as floods engulfed the plains.

In Katla´s last eruption in 1918 icebergs the size of houses were seen floating out to sea. More recently in 1955 and 1979 there have been floods though no eruption that you could see.

However if you went to the European experience (those who live down wind instead of up) the viewpoint is somewhat different. The 1918 eruption, for example, threw a cloud 20 km high much higher than the 6 - 10 km height of the Eyjafjallajökull. And the clouds of noxious gasses that have, in the past, created the "vogs" that Gail referred to that kill many folk. They also do seriously unpleasant things to the growing season.

Bear in mind that Reykjavik airport, 85 miles east of the volcano, has not been closed.

I´m not only viewing this from an Icelandic point of view. The fact is that most eruptions in Katla have not been catastrophic, only a few have.

The last eruption that was catastrophic in Iceland was that in Askja in 1875. In the north eastern part of Iceland there was a thick layer of ash and many farms were destroyed.

Catastrophic in the current context goes beyond local results, though.

If the current eruption continued at current levels for a month or two it probably wouldn't be much of a big deal, except in how much air traffic it grounded over that time. That could be catastrophic for certain businesses, and would likely result in a dramatic reconfiguration of European travel and shipping.

That is true, but it is highly unlikely that Eyjafjallajökull volcano will be this active for a month or two. The eruption is already slowing down. It could start againt though but a lot of the ice in the caldera has smelted so we will not have as much ash and the plume will not go as high.

That is a valid point as far as this one goes.

I'm just saying that with the air traffic problems from volcanic ash and the world's present dependence on that air traffic, an eruption sequence that wouldn't have caused problems for anyone but the people living under the volcano even 50 years ago can be a major problem for a great many people today.

The reaction to this eruption so far is, I think, strong evidence of that.

That is a valid point but thankfully most eruptions in Iceland are rather short. They start strong and then they limper on for a few days or weeks. As I said before we have had many sub-glacial eruptions in Iceland (many larger than the current one) in the last 30 years. Most of the time we have had no big problems. When we have problems like this time I think I can say that in most cases the problems will not be long term. The distant possibility exists though that we will be unlucky this time or regarding the next Katla eruption.

The eruption is already slowing down

Hope you are right but here's what is happening now

That is very interesting. I have been discussing this on an Icelandic forum. No one seems to know what is going on at the moment. We don´t know much about Eyjafjallajökull because it hasn´t erupted that often since Iceland was settled.

Seemingly we also have the wrong kind of ash, being lighter than normal. So even when there is less water and hence steam, the volcanic ash plume may still pose a problem.

The site from Undertow's comment also contains an interactive map with the locations for the above tremor graphs.

Anybody knows the size of the Thórsmörk Ignimbrite eruption? Middle to upper VEI5?

Ah yes, we had tomato rot here in New Jersey last year too, despite an otherwise sunny and warm summer. So nature keeps throwing us curve balls, and bats last.

I view a more severe volcanic eruption accelerating the effects of PO. Granted jet fuel demand will go down, but diesel demand will go up more than the loss of jet fuel demand - as people drive more in Europe and trains become more active in transport.

In addition, loss of some food production will probably cause more worldwide shipping of food to get what is needed to the proper location - not to mention the possibility that fertilizer use may pick up to increase otherwise impaired farm crops.

Most European trains run on electricity, not diesel.


And the electricity is generated by ???

Nuclear, hydro, coal, natural gas, wind, central heat & power units (in roughly that order).

Oil fired generation is now an oddity in Europe.


It would be an oddity if more diesel wasn't used in directly or indirectly the upkeep of said alternative energy sources, or to increase marginal production of those energy sources - for example, getting transport for those extra train and nuclear workers when planes aren't flying.

In all likelihood, trivial and perhaps negative.

Example, Urban rail, where it exists, ties into train stations. In any case, for most people, it is a shorter drive to the train station than the airport, and the train station is closer to the final destination. So less fuel used on the first & last legs.

Nuclear plants have the same crew regardless of production.

It is usually easy to add an extra car to a train. And no extra oil to go with every seat full vs. a partial load.


Hi schoff,

It's good to know that your comments are appreciated, thanks!

In this case your comment sums the case up pretty well;and even though I spend most of my evenings and rainy days reading anything I run across as long as it is serious science and nature literature, I haven't read much about volcanos and agriculture.

There simply isn't a whole lot out there on this subject, unless it is of fairly recent vintage.

My guesstimate is that some farmers fairly nearby, such as the Scots, will suffer a noticeable impact, but this will probably not be large enough to disrupt wholesale markets.This is of course assuming that the eruption is over within a few more days.

If it continues very long, such accounts as I have read suggest that we might suffer a serious loss even here in the US.

If the other nearby volcano(the one evry one is speculating about) were to erupt in a big way for an extended period of time, which it has done in the not so distant past,there is reason to believe that we could see another "year without a summer".

Given the precarious world wide state of staple food reserves, this in turn could concievably mean riots and starvation in some places..

All in all, I 'm just speculating like every body else in this case, although the volcanologists might actually have a fairly good shot at predicting the course of the eruption(s)-here and there you can find articles saying that the state of thier art has changed a lot for the better over the last few years.Whether this is true, or just self serving publicity, I don't know.

Icelandair flying between USA & Iceland but not onward to Europe

Keflavik, their main international airport, is in the SW corner of Iceland and upwind of the volcano.


Video of Volcano Spewing More Ash

Icelandic geologist, Magnus Tumi Gudmundsson of the University of Iceland, told The Associated Press on Saturday that activity was increasing at the Eyjafjallajokull volcano that has grounded flights across Europe.

The silence, the birdsong, the clear blue skies no longer vandalised by con-trail graffiti, it all makes one realise what environmental destruction we have become accustomed to.

Here's the view from my garden:

Sadly, by next weekend we will be in a south-westerly air-stream, with warm moist air to wash away any remaining dust and send any further plumes into the eastern Arctic. The planes will return since humans are too stupid.

In the past 40 years, hundreds of aircraft around the world have faced serious problems as a result of volcanic ash. How many flights have taken place during these years, there must be billions. Should anything happen now during a flight is probably quite small, if not tiny.

Still, they decide to ground all flight:s in northern Europe and sends travelers on the roads, etc. Is there a risk in this behavior?

There is another aspect of this, and the aviation industry has a very high safety awareness. What if society had had the same safety in the energy sector and all other sectors that uses energy. The probability of Peak Oil occurring is extremely high and is higher for every week that goes.

Even now, the risk is 30% that we passed the peak, and we continue like nothing happened. By analogy to the flight, we are now in an aircraft looking over the North Sea on their way over the Norwegian oil fields against Iceland on 10 000 m height directly in to the ashes.

The closer we get to the peak there is a increased risk of a systemic collapse, and we're talking flight risks here that ground the aircrafts. This risk is both real and high.

Since there is a high risk that chould be treated as such, it is not an either / or question! Failure to address this risk is not just a personal failure, but a failure in risk management of grave negligence. And after all, we can't remove the risk of Peak Oil, so we have to make us more resilient and minimize the damage.

The authorities should address these risks?

Energy Agency is confident that the market will solves the dilemma. It's as if oil companies decide on the safty of flights.

Authority for Civil Contingencies we think should handle this, but this is a big issue and they trust Energy Authority, who do nothing if not IEA says so.

It all becomes a catch-22, and no one does anything but BAU, with aircraft on the ground but this is not because of fuel shortages, but an extremely low risk of dust in the engines!

This is a translation from ASPO Sweden.

"an extremely low risk of dust in the engines!"

There has been plenty of experience with operating jet aircraft in clouds of volcanic ash (even of low concentrations). The risks are well understood and not considered "extemely low". Even if there is not a catastrophic failure of one or more engines, the damage will ground the aircraft, costing the carrier the price of replacing/rebuiling the engines and other components. These clouds are hard to see from the aircraft and don't show up on radar until it's too late.

The very fine but extremely abrasive particles present a hazard to the aircraft's airframe and powerplants. They easily scratch and erode paint, aluminum and glass. This damages the wings' leading edges, and has a sandblasting effect on cockpit windscreens and landing lights. Inside the engines, the particles stick to the engine's hot parts, forming a glasslike coating, and grind up turbines, bearings, and other moving parts, restricting air flow through the turbine. This may lead to the immediate loss of thrust and eventually engine failure.

The ash can block the pitot tubes and other sensors that supply vital information on speed and outside air pressure. It also can clog air filters, such as the ones through which air flows to the passenger cabin..............

During the early 1980s, two Boeing 747s were severely damaged by the ash clouds spewing from Galunggung Volcano on Indonesia's Java island. One of these, a British Airways flight, lost power on all four engines. While the pilots managed to restart the engines at a lower altitude, the resulting glide still ranks as one of the longest ever performed by an aircraft not specifically designed as a glider.

Another 747 encountered similar problems while flying through the ash clouds over Mt. Redbout, near Anchorage in Alaska. And at least 10 Jumbo jets and 10 DC-10s suffered multiple engine failures in 1991 from ash from Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines.

Read more:


While your point is well taken, IMO it kind of steps on the risk assessment/avoidance analogy randeben draws btwn jet flight in volcanic ash and society's ignorance/denial of peak oil, which I think is well stated.

We are flying blind.

randeben's point is well made, though he said:

"Even now, the risk is 30% that we passed the peak, and we continue like nothing happened."
(emphasis mine)

I haven't continued as though peak oil isn't happening. Nor would I fly in a jet through an ash cloud. And I consider 30% risk as he states quite low. What does it say that many (most?) would discount the dangers of flying through an ash cloud and deny PO just to continue BAU? It tells me that collectively, "we" are in a for a world of sh@t. At least (IMO), regarding this volcano, someone made the correct call. "We" can just blame the volcano.

Regarding peak oil, we ultimately have ourselves to blame. We're not very good at that.

The 30 % comes from this graph from Feasta and there latest report "Tipping Point: Near-Term Systemic Implications of a Peak in Global Oil Production", if it is 30% or 50% is not the point.
There have been damage on aircraft's sure, but have there been any passenger killed due to ash for the last 40-50 years.
It is also a sign of a more complexity in the system that is not beneficial, only more problem.

The aircraft fell for about 12 minutes, dropping from about 25,000 feet to about 13,000 feet, a distance of more than two miles. By then, pilot Karl van der Elst and his crew were able to get two engines restarted and brought the plane under control. About 15 minutes later, with all four engines running, van der Elst set flight 867 down on the runway at Anchorage International Airport.

Twelve minutes no engines on a 747, six or seven tries to get the first two started, sounds like a ride I'm glad I wasn't on.

Maybe we will react to Peak Oil more forcefully after a sufficient free fall. Hope we can restart the engines.

All four engines were replaced (at a costy of $80m) despite only being around one year old.
There was a BA flight the year before(?) in Asia where they flew through ash at night and all four engines stopped. The pilot made an announcement similar to "all four engines have stopped, we're trying to restart them, hope you are not too distressed" i.e. make your last wishes.
A few days later a Sing Air plane also had engine failure flying through the same cloud.
Following these incidents a warning system was introduced.

You might be interested in a NASA report that shows some pictures of the engine

"...The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) DC-8 airborne sciences research
airplane inadvertently flew through a diffuse volcanic ash cloud of the Mt. Hekla volcano in February
2000 during a flight from Edwards Air Force Base (Edwards, California) to Kiruna, Sweden. Although
the ash plume was not visible to the flight crew, sensitive research experiments and instruments detected
it. In-flight performance checks and postflight visual inspections revealed no damage to the airplane or
engine first-stage fan blades; subsequent detailed examination of the engines revealed clogged turbine
cooling air passages. The engines were removed and overhauled..."

And we have yesterdays Finnish airforce 5 F-18s suffered engine damage. And it was reportedly clear blue sky, without the ashcloud being visable. Fortunetely they landed safely. But engine overhauls are now needed.

I wouldn't worry about wind turbine blades. I'd be more concerned about dust getting into the generator gearing. I think the problem in jet engines is not erosion due to abrasive ash, but cooling systems getting clogged causing overheating.

There are plenty of reasons not to fly jets through volcanic ash, all good. It just ain't smart (like sailing ships through icebergs).

Finnish fighter aircraft have flown through the plume and suffered engine damage from this eruption.

The following has allegedly been received at the Dutch and UK National Banks over the previous 24 hours:


Written in somewhat broken Icelandic it translates roughly to:
« Place 20 billion Euro in the garbage bin beside the Icelandic embassy the coming night, and we will switch off the volcano!
Do not call the police! «

There is a possibility this might be a hoax, but I would advice against being caught hanging around any Icelandic embassy for the next 48 hours ..

...... or else we will power up Katla or even Hekla.

Breaking news A: Light Aircraft Crashes Into Field: Two Dead

Senior aviation officials have told Sky News it is "highly unlikely" that the crash was caused by the volcanic ash cloud which is drifting across the UK.

..... but at that time the ash-concentration was at its maximum at that very area ... hmmm?!!?

Also -
Breaking news B: EU/KLM makes test flights to assess volcanic ash

This may be KLM 705 that I saw takeoff over an hour ago. A lonely yellow symbol in northern Europe.


The explanation that they had on the news this morning didn't make all that much sense. They said some airlines were conducting "test flights":

The flights come as some observers start questioning if regulators may have over-stated the safety threat.

KLM, whose Saturday test went without incident, is running another eight, and Air France is also taking to the skies.

The tests come as most of Europe's air space was paralysed for a fourth day on Sunday.

But the test flights on Saturday by Dutch airline KLM and Germany's Lufthansa to assess the impact of the ash on jet engines offered some hope.

I had thought they had sufficient experience with this kind of stuff in the past that they don't need to test these things.

I believe the test flights have been at specific altitudes and areas of relatively low predicted ash density. The intention seems to be to probe the boundaries and find out what might be possible if the situation goes on for any length of time.

By the way, on the east coast of Scotland a fine layer of bits of Iceland covered my car on Thursday night so it is definitely about.

I hope the weather changes soon.
A serious problem with Icelandic ash is the potential for high fluoride content.

Highly toxic to grazing animals. Apparently the fluoride content varies with the particular volcanic eruption, and provides a useful signature for dates in environmental history studies.

A volcanic ash-layer in peat from northern Scotland has been identified and coincides exactly with an abrupt decline in Pinus sylvestris L. (Scots pine) pollen frequencies. This provides an isochrone (time-equivalent marker horizon) with which to investigate the timing of the Holocene 'pine-decline'. Furthermore, two possible causes of the southward shift of the range of Pinus in Scotland c. 4000 BP are suggested; a direct effect of acid pollution by chemicals produced by the eruption of Hekla (H-4), or a volcanically-induced climatic perturbation. These possibilities have wider implications for the influence of volcanism on postglacial environmental change. />

This earlier Hekla appears to have been 'the big one' for northern Scotland - the region seems to have been uninhabitable for a while. Guess we will get away with this one; there have been many more eruptions without widespread catastrophe. A summer though where air travel is restricted unpredictably from time to time could make for interesting economic and political reactions.

« Place 20 billion Euro in the garbage bin beside the Icelandic embassy the coming night, and we will switch off the volcano!
Do not call the police! «

Send me the cash. Or eat my ash!

This whole affair is interesting.

Here in the UK I sell hi tech products made in the USA, Switzerland, Turkey and Italy.

My latest US shipment is going to be severely delayed.

Customers will be unhappy & my business will be damaged.

(I assume/hope that the European suppliers will migrate to rail & road deliveries.)

So should I now focus on my more local suppliers?

That's not clear either : do they buy US sourced chips?

At the very minimum we could see an increased interest / awareness of exactly where components of products are sourced.

This thread is a bit funny given that yours truly is sitting in Mumbai with no way to get home yet.
Obviously the impact of this eruption has a massive rippling effect thats not even being considered.

Given my position to be caught halfway around the world from my home because of disruptions to transportation is karma big time.

Jeez, Mike. You may have a long train ride if this thing continues for very long. Sounds like fun!

One realistic option is to fly into either Spain or Northern Italy and rail home.

I did note that a single plane, KLM 705, did take off from (I assume Netherlands) and apparently head south. I did not track it any further.


On a normal day, nothing disturbs the peace at my farm.. except jumbo jet traffic between Schiphool and China. This weekend, not so.
May the volcano spew out ashes for a long time to come! :)

Unconfirmed rumors says this is not a volcano ash problem. Instead, Iceland "legalized it" recently..

It could still be a volcano:


Behold the "Volcano Vaporizer", popular choice among medical users!

A question to any oil techies.

Will we have other fuel supply problems if there is reduced consumption of Kerosene? If a refinery turns crude into A+B+C then a glut of 'C' - because no one flies - means what? They can only stockpile so much 'C' and then..? Or can they turn a dial and split Kerosene into toothpaste and mothballs, or whatever..?

You Brits and other Europeans are now experiencing what we in the US saw post 9/11. The utter absence of aircraft in the sky. It is an odd phenomena. It is like white noise in your office. Every day it's there and you acclimate to it, but once you remove it, you notice that it's gone. And you realize just how noisy it was when it was there.

I remember thinking how peaceful it was at the time. I know it is an inconvenience, but enjoy it while it lasts.

Except, we experienced the exact same thing during 9/11 also.

Wow...I did not remember reading that they stopped air travel everywhere post 9/11. I thought it was just in the US.

The threat of potentially more suicide hijackings kamikaze attacks elsewhere was too great to just allow all other flights to stay aloft, so airspace was restricted pretty much everywhere. This event, however, has gone on longer than the 9/11 incident.

I just heard a report on the BBC World Service, saying that a video-conferencing outfit in the UK has had a large surge of business. In the 1980s, the research institute I worked for did some studies for Australia's leading telecom company, on why the take-up of video-conferencing was so modest - given the country is huge and sparsely populated, and lots of people were doing a lot of flying to relatively minor face-to-face meetings.

It seems that business people and public officials like all the hassles of air travel, rather than sit in their office (or in a dedicated room), and video-conference. They placed extremely high value on the personal interaction, and the informal networking over meals (which is code for drinking - at least in the Aussie context).

All very well, but I would suspect (without any hard data in front of me) that a great deal of business and public sector travel is to meetings with colleagues in your company or department, rather than to meet with customers, clients, or stakeholders. Oh well - I guess the airlines don't complain about this cheap-oil indulgence by our society's leaders.

Ash Wednesday will be early this year.

Ash Wednesday will be early this year.

aardvark, more like repeat than early. One Ash Wednesday on February 17th. The rest in April?, May??, June???

Double, triple, quadruple the penance, anyone?

Apparently a moderator deleted the discussion on 9-11. If it was because it is off-topic, I understand. If it was because of censorship of ideas that go against the commonly-held and promoted ideas, that ain't good.

It is seriously off-topic, and not likely to result in constructive discussion.

Mainly it depends on a question of loyalties that is not provable without knowledge that is only accessible to less than a handful of living people. I'd be shocked if any of them change their public stories this late in the game.

If you want to follow the (possible) awakening of Katla, look at here:

Well, the last signs do not bode well. Anyway, let's hope for the best.

Can you explain a little bit more? What do the 5 boxes reveal? What should I watch or monitor?

Thanks for the comments. You can find more information here at the Physics Department in Reykjavík

(See "Tremor" as well as all the information contained in that interesting Icelandic website).

Thanks for this link, I am very interested about the seismic and geologic activity of Iceland right now. Too many fluff news stories with too little real data.

And like paulah, I would like to better understand this graph as well.

If trans-atlantic air travel is going to be disrupted for long periods, repeatedly (yes, this scenario could happen over and over again), then it is going to be really, really stupid if we end up scrapping this grand old ship.

Curiously, a friend on another forum brought that up. She's in quite a state and will likely be scrapped anyway, but if this persists for months, maybe you could do a really quick refit and get her making a profit. Cruiseliners aren't optimised for fast trans-Atlantic travel, and cargofreighters have legal limits to how many they can carry in their quarters. Short of making ekranoplans or taking all shipping available and using it as jerry rigged passenger carriage, I can't think of any better idea.

Well, I can dream. Just like I want my atomic pile powered airships.

Icelandair flights 306 (Stockholm), 318 (Oslo) and 346 (Tampere) are now over Norway and Sweden. Flights to Nordic nations (bit not further south) are taking off.

See bottom of page for list of possible flights.

PS: Icelandair pilots are trained on local flights in Iceland and have more "balls" than most airline pilots.


Hi Alan,

I don't want my pilot to have more "balls" than most, remember the saying there are old pilots and bold pilots but no old & bold pilots! When they have my life in their hands I want them to be very very careful.

I'm with you there, but it is good to have pilots that can handle a tough situation when one comes up. Reeve pilots were known for there skill, but then Aleutian was their middle name. I wouldn't doubt the Icelandair pilots might have a similar reputation, though possibly a word with a little different nuance than 'balls' would instill more confidence. In 1984 flew on a Reeve Electra into Cold Bay, the flight was the only one I have ever been on where I didn't feel the touch down and I was watching the gear till we stopped.
Quite a different ride than the one below that a Reeve Electra had in the very same neighborhood eleven months earlier.

The web site shows that on June 8, 1983, near Cold Bay, Alaska, during the cruise climb portion of a flight, the crew of Reeve Aleutian Airways Electra N1968R, noticed an unusual vibration. A little while later, at somewhere around 20 thousand feet of altitude, the propeller of the number 4 engine separated from the engine, and struck the aircraft. This caused major damage to the lower fuselage and resulted in decompression of the cabin. The flight controls became jammed and the engines would not respond to throttles. The crew regained minimal control by using the autopilot, and diverted the flight to Anchorage. Once there, they used what controls they did have to land safely, without injury to any of the 15 people aboard.

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