Airlines lobby to reopen European airspace closed by Eyjafjallajökull

Some very quick notes on Eyjafjallajökull:

Eyjafjallajökull erupting at night on April 17/18, 2010, with impressive incandescent explosions.

European airlines are taking "test flights" to see the effect of the ash on their aircraft in hopes to convince EU officials to reopen airspace. Now, officials from KLM say that everything went fine in their test flight, but I haven't seen any details about flightplans, altitude and all the sorts of info you'd want to see if you want to believe these test flights are representative. However, the president of KLM does have a bit of a point in saying that this ash is not unprecedented in the world of aviation - volcanoes are erupting along Indonesia, Alaska, Japan, Kamchatka and elsewhere around the world without widespread problems. However, the key question is how similar is this eruption to those that occur around the world all the time - and at what timescales could ash concentration change in the air over Europe. One other thing I don't know - and maybe somebody out there does - do most commercial pilots get trained on ash avoidance? However, there is still no word on when all of European airspace will reopen - but we may see up to 50% of normal flights by Monday.

The eruption continues unabated as of this morning. The latest ash models show continuing ash over Europe according to the London VAAC and, for the first time, the potential of ash, although very minute and high, over Nova Scotia by Monday (potentially). We have some reports about the impact of the eruption on farmers in Iceland and the various inconveniences caused by the ash around the world.

NOTE: SO seems to be down ... hopefully the image will return! Surtseyan explosions at the crater on Eyjafjallajökull taken on April 17, 2010. Image by Marco Fulle, courtesy of Stromboli Online.

Be sure to check out the comments sections from earlier posts for some great image collections - and this new one from Marco Fulle showing the crater on the glacier itself. The explosions look like textbook examples of Surtseyan explosions - but all the water involved is glacial meltwater (not seawater like at its namesake Surtsey). Amazing stuff!

More like this

Erik! The picture from Marco Fulle is not displayed, accessing either of the links "Stromboli Online" or "this new one from Marco Fulle" result in a "403 Forbidden You don't have permission to access to this document on this server" being displayed.

Nice pics, but I don't think that is actual fire fountaining in the first picture, because a fire fountain requires mostly molten ejecta...I just think the ash is hot enough to incandesce, or is reflecting the incandescence of the vent itself (in a long exposure like this, the red colour of such an event can be quite intense), or both. It may be partially molten, but that would be highly unusual for any andesitic ash eruption, and even more unlikely given the water component which is quenching the andesite.

However, this eruption is pretty strange: it is possible that the new basalt encountered and assimilated enough rhyolite to make it of andesitic composition without cooling that much. I am not a high-temperature geochemist so I really don't know if an andesite could be almost completely molten at the surface of the earth under certain specific conditions, and if it could be, are those conditions met here?

If so, the phenomenon in that photo is probably more likely to be analogous to the littoral explosions that are common in Hawaii when a large quantity of basaltic magma is instantaneously exposed to water (flinging molten material and glass and/or rock fragments everywhere), than a genuine fire fountain caused by dissolved gases rapidly exsolving out of the magma.

By VolcanoMan (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Did something collapse on the north side? There sure is a lot going on over there.

By Frito Lay (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Anyone, is it possible to estimate the position (depth and coordinates) of the source for this harmonic tremor? :)

By Mattias Larsson (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Re 1:
Same "forbidden" message here. And both images are hotlinked too. (which isn't nice to whomever is running the server it's hosted on)

Sky News just announced that most of Norwegian airspace will be open tomorrow

Re #4
100 million m3 of ejecta?

That seems a little on the large side; do you have a link for where you got that figure

I'm no geochemist.. but molten andesite can indeed exist at the Earth's surface..

You can have magma which is "molten", that is, mostly liquid/pasty.. but in fact it's a mix of solid crystals into molten glass...

Andesite lava can go from quite fluid, to extraordinarily viscous, depending on temperature and crystal contents..

Just to show...

Soufriere from Montserrat is andesitic... extreme viscosity..

but Yasur, on Tanna Island, is andesitic, with 58% SiO², just like what's going on on Eyjaf...

And it does just that.... strombolian activity!

We can see the lava splashing all over the place....

Looks like Etna!!

By Volcanophile (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Great website, discussions and information guys!
Thanks a lot for keeping us posted here over in Holland!

It's still very quiet in our airspace! This evening we saw a plane in the air above our house. Turned out to be a cargo flight from KLM.

Here you can check out the Dutch airspace:
Nothing in the air right now, but at ten to 8 tou see a plane leaving Amsterdam.

By Frouke Janssen (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

The Air Quality Blog at UMBC has an insightful article posted today on Eyjaf's plume over NW Europe, with cool graphics, at

It is true that airlines deal with volcanos all of the time and this would be a non-event for them if the ash didn't happen to be aimed right at a busy European airspace.

Airlines deal with massive thunderstorms all of the time, but they do not fly through them. (Or when they do, bad things tend to happen.) You don't land at Denver if there is a large thunderstorm on top of it no matter how badly you want to.

Humans have a really difficult time dealing with things that are beyond their control. The problem for pilots is that those things usually move on fairly quickly and ash doesn't seem to. We just have to wait for the sky to clear. It might be awhile or it could happen tomorrow. That is the fun of geology as I understand it.

I just really hope that the decisions are made by science and not by economics. Even if we "only" lose %1 of the airframes in a week over Europe it would be an unprecedented disaster.

I think it is more likely, though, that everybody will take off and land safely, but will trash the engines in the process. (Are they going to vacuum the runway between each takeoff?) If we have a crash six months on that is even remotely due to ash damage that would really hurt the industry. All planes in Europe now would essentially have to be scrapped or turned into cargo -- nobody would fly anything that had been through this.

What this makes me realize is that even a moderate eruption of one of the Cascade volcanoes could have economic impacts that are hard to predict. Helens was fairly interminttant as I recall, and we were actually generally lucky with where the ash ended up. Ranier or Baker seem to have the possibility of shutting down West Coast air traffic.

Austria and Italy opening airspace from 06:00am tomorrow - Sky News

@VolcanoMan - Good point, I've changed the description in the caption.

Is there any concern over the Eq activity at Kistufell?

@Zane [#9]

"100 million m3 of ejecta?

That seems a little on the large side; do you have a link for where you got that figure"

100 million m3 isn't a lot. One cubic kilometer is 1,000,000,000 cubic meters ( 1 x 10^9 ), so 100 million m3 is about 0.1 km3.

Mt St Helens did about 2.79 km3 in it's May 18 1980 eruption.


Kistufell? You sure you don't mean Bárðarbunga?árðarbunga

By Emanuel Landeholm (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Before rushing out to your travel agent note that there is another complication. According to the forum on the people who make the engines say that any engine that has been exposed to ash on the ground requires an inspection and complete oil change (in addition to cleaning.) Any that have encountered ash in the air require a very complete inspection, long term logging, and oil change.

I don't have any idea how long this takes per engine, but I would in aircraft speak "expect delays." Airports are not really set up to do this (no place really is, imagine if all cars had to be brought in for servicfe at once.) I would even be a bit surprised if the stock of filters holds up. I guess they could fly some in... oops.

The part I left off in my post is that this complete oil change and inspection has to happen EVERY FLIGHT. Having dealt with different sorts of engine companies I doubt that these recommendations are going to change to accomodate the needs of the customers. They have no financial incentive to join a potential billion+ lawsuit if a couple of planes go down due to ash.

@18 You are correct. I had the wrong location.

What is the normal oil change/filter replacement cycle on jet turbine engines? And how long does it take to accomplish this task?

By Tennyson Lee (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

I am curious about the EQ swarm at Kistufell. Any ideas out there?

In the time I've lived in Alaska, Mt. Augustine has erupted 3 times, Mt. Redoubt twice and Mt. Spurr once. There has been a lot learned about flying when ash could be present. I belive a speciallly equipped aircraft using LIDAR has been employed to track ash as have pilot reports at discrete altitudes when arriving or departing from Anchorage. The Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) and National Weather Service have cooperatively developed tools using wind observations and forecasts to predict where ash could be based on when a specific pulse event occurs. However the starting point has been the mountain (most recently Redoubt) and the airfield of concern Anchorage International Airport about 100 miles away. I don't know how distant the predictions were employed, but if the prevailing wind was to the SE, then flights along the West Coast were affected. One major factor is the determination of how high the plume is assending in relation to the flight alitudes. If the Icelandic plume is indeed topping out at 30,000 then it is possible that flight levels above that could be clear. As was earned in Alaska in 1989 and the photos of the Finnish F-18s, an encounter with ash can cause damage to the aircraft. Not all encounters will result in the complete engine shut down experienced by the KLM 747 in 1989. It is not dissimilar to bird and aircraft encouters. Not all encounters will be catastrophic, but if there is ash in the air or birds, the risk remains. By the way, great site. I have visited often.

By Tom Maunder (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Boy for bright people they sure got dumb down pat.

So, we have the EU which is ash laden. International flights out of all the previously mentioned airports heading west to America and the ones to the east from America. Then some whizwheel says, "I can do that". So they take off and nothing happens until the 20-30th flight and an engine flames out, then the others one by one. No restart. So now they do what? The ENTIRE purpose of the ash advisories are to ensure you dont fly into this stuff...

So, they decide that they should go flying..?

Only a government could come up with this kind of logic. The airlines are losing their shirts right now when they should be moving ops down to Spain, Portugal and Italy. If I were an attorney, I would just get on the word processor and start typing it up and leave the plaintiffs names blank. NO WAY any government is going to say its safe. They will cover their asses by saying, "At the operators own risk". Then they will get sued later after the studies and info come out that say that there was no way they should have gone.

Like I said.... Dumb !

Tenny-Lee... About a year or 10,000 hours or whatever comes first. There are chip detectors in the oil sumps that draw the irony metals towards the magnets that make contact and then signal bearing failures and the like. Normally they pull the oil, send it for analysis to see if there are bits of bearings floating in it. But they change the oil on detection pretty much and then run it on until the analysis comes back. Kind of like the oil pressure light on your car coming on. Probably nothing but good to know.

By M. Randolph Kruger (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

"What is the normal oil change/filter replacement cycle on jet turbine engines?"

I think that is sort of beside the point in this case. Take the case of an airline where an aircraft might be expected to make several hops per day. An example in the US might be Southwest Airlines where a plane might fly from Las Vegas, to San Jose, to Burbank, to Phoenix, to Vegas in one day. Now imagine it must be torn down for service and inspection *at each stop*.

Now look at the financial equation. If an airline does this, they incur spectacular financial expense in trying to keep any kind of schedule going at the same time they would experience a reduction in number of flights. In other words, ticket prices though the roof. If they do not conduct the checks as recommended by the manufacturer for the flying conditions, they risk extraordinary punitive damage from any lawsuits resulting in an accident unless flying is done with an explicit "at your own risk" waiver.

It is time for airlines to become consolidated "transport" companies that might own airplanes, boats, rail cars, buses etc. and can move passengers by several different modes from place to place. First "airline" to do this wins as they operate in all conditions, all the time and can shift passengers from one mode to another as conditions warrant but they continue on their way.

The airlines are currently looking for a way to stay alive in the face of current conditions. It is costing them hundreds of millions of dollars per day to remain grounded. They can not survive that very long.

Correction - 1000 hours

By M. Randolph Kruger (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

@17 and 25, thanks. I read the number before morning coffee, and rolled fail on my convert m3 to km3...

If it were necessary to change the oil/filter every flight, that would mean the service would have to be done hundreds of times more frequently than normal. That sounds pretty bad and likely non-economical.

While I was searching on google for jet engine maintenance info, I came across this article:…

I'm not sure what to make of this...

By Tennyson Lee (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Teardowns maybe, but more like it takes about a half a day to do a borescope inspection of each blade and the nozzles through the access points and the company engineering departments makes that decision of what the inspection interval is... Its called a TBM as a scheduled item or an EO, Engineering Order. The FAA could also issue an Airworthiness Directive (AD) as an order, both at next maintenance visit or an Emergency AD and that carries the weight of a plane going down thought.

I can think of a lot of world leaders I would want to head out on the "test flights" but thats a bit mean spirited...No, they want YOU to go for a little test flight because they cant measure the density of this stuff. Anyone want to take their chances out over the North Sea? Climb Aboard...

If they are wrong and a plane goes down because the perceived threat was minimal then its what is known in aviation law as "prima facie" evidence. Impossible to defend... Besides, who is going to insure the operations? You think Lloyds of London wants to buy into this game?

Thats the reason they want GOVERNMENT to let them off the hook.

By M. Randolph Kruger (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Teardowns maybe, but more like it takes about a half a day to do a borescope inspection of each blade and the nozzles through the access points and the company engineering departments makes that decision of what the inspection interval is... Its called a TBM as a scheduled item or an EO, Engineering Order. The FAA could also issue an Airworthiness Directive (AD) as an order, both at next maintenance visit or an Emergency AD and that carries the weight of a plane going down thought.

I can think of a lot of world leaders I would want to head out on the "test flights" but thats a bit mean spirited...No, they want YOU to go for a little test flight because they cant measure the density of this stuff. Anyone want to take their chances out over the North Sea? Climb Aboard...

If they are wrong and a plane goes down because the perceived threat was minimal then its what is known in aviation law as "prima facie" evidence. Impossible to defend... Besides, who is going to insure the operations? You think Lloyds of London wants to buy into this game?

Thats the reason they want GOVERNMENT to let them off the hook. Plausible deniability... Anna-DUCK cause that big shadow in the sky might really mean something.

By M. Randolph Kruger (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

UK Flights Ban Extended Until Monday Night

"the Government indicated the Royal Navy could be used to ferry passengers back to Britain."


Rule Britannia...Britannia rule the waves....Britons never will be slaves;)

I don't think the concentrations of ash are high enough to cause instant engine failure, but engines will be damaged. This stuff melts and glues onto every little corner of the engine which may cause the engine to fail in subsequent flights, usually during takeoff at or near maximum thrust. Pinatabo caused at least 10 engines to be scrapped after ash ingestion even when the aircraft was very far away. The big problem is that engines cost millions and it's not economically viable to replace them every few flights. That and insurance will determine who will be able to fly.

And again since this stuff gets into everywhere borescope inspection may not be enough to detect damage, The whole engine should be disassembled and parts sent to labs for specialist analysis.

Harmonic tremor continues to rise.

Airliens seem to care more aobut the big bucks they are losing then safety. If anytihng happens and a plane goes down in the ash they are at falut and dersve to get the book tohrown at them. If people die I feel the top exexcutives should get the death penetly, no excuse for this greed!

By Chance Metz (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Anyone have a link to those GPS graphs? I want to have a look at inflation/deflation.

;) If the US hadn't refused German requests for helium some 80 years ago we wouldn't be in this mess.

Yes I reposted this becuase my spelling was really bad and to clarify my point. It should crimial to fly in known dangerous conditions just to earn money!!

Airlines seem to care more about the losing big bucks then they are about safety. If anything happens and a plane goes down in the ash they are at fault and deserve to get the book thrown at them. If people die I feel the top exexcutives should get the death penetly, no excuse for this greed!

By Chance Metz (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Erik, "my comment has been received and held for approval by the moderator." Could I please ask you kindly to check on its status?

Iain-You are right. If its visible then they take a picture of it and the engineers determine if its unsafe with the idea of premature removals of an engine or its components before failure. Thats my point. Failure could happen by flying through a more highly concentrated ash cloud which goes to the avoidance thing. The air samplings that are going on are done by balloons and aircraft with the latter being in deep doo right now to even get up there to sample it. Matiella at Michigan State does this for a living and wanted our air filters from the planes that had gone through the tail of Chaiten.

But to cover Eriks question of "avoidance" training here is the other part of the advisories that I havent posted... Just a few lines. At flight level 200 (anything past 18,000 is a flight level) to the latitude and longitudes give...These are the corners or multiple corners as it is in this case. It keeps going like that for the altitude until they get a block. Then, they start the next level. Point is though that they are saying SFC (surface) to FL (Flight Level) 200 -20,000 feet ASL (above sea level). So they are sucking it at the surface...

When Pinatubo went, this was in what we called the blobs. As the ash cloud (not SO2) rose it also broke into multiple pieces and you had to think in 3-D on how to avoid it. It was all over the world really. The Pacific was a stream, then big blobs, then little ones, then sort of gone. Lots of reports of St. Elmos fire on the nacelles of aircraft at that time. But like Eyjaf it kicked the big punch into near space and it moved pretty much on.

As for changing oil folks, that stuff isnt going to get into the oil. Its going to grind at the bearing seals to the outside and they might leak a bit. The biggest threat is the accretion on the surfaces and the fuel nozzles, and of course clearances opening up due to abrasion.

Is it safe? Think of throwing sand into a jet engine on the ground and then say, "lets go up". How much sand did you throw in? They are sucking it up on the ground remember to 20,000 feet. KLM wants to put planes in the air? Let them do cargo first then pax second. Thats an aircrew of a couple of people and loss of cargo if it goes down. Prescribed risk assessment and do indeed check the engines out after every stop. But dont ever let someone tell you everything is going to be okay when your eyes and nose can see and smell something that doesnt pass the BS test.

OBS VA CLD: SFC/FL200 N6345 W01945 - N6338 W01307 - N6156 W00907 -
N5813 W00923 - N5643 W01155 - N5656 W01003 - N5805 W00707 - N5752
E00514 - N5956 E01057 - N6011 E01440 - N6043 E01536 - N6102 E02127 -
N6023 E02949 - N6255 E02726 - N7154 E03325 - N7322 E04611 - N7304
E07150 - N7447 E08236 - N7422 E08628 - N7329 E08620 - N7121 E07541 -
N7002 E05849 - N6901 E04547 - N6601 E04243 - N5743 E04427 - N5713
E02311 - N5149 E00849 - N4948 E00905 - N5209 E01616 - N5129 E02326

By M. Randolph Kruger (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

"It should crimial to fly in known dangerous conditions just to earn money!!"

I believe that places the responsibility in the wrong place. I have no problem with being "allowed" to fly under any conditions that airline wants to subject the equipment to. It is up to the person buying the ticket to decide if they want to place themselves at risk. Often it is the person doing the flying who is doing so in order to make money and they must make a judgment of risk/reward.

It is not the responsibility of your neighbor (the government) to "take care of you". You are responsible for yourself. If you are not capable of judging the risks for yourself, you have no business flying. In that case, you should be barred from flying under any conditions.

@george. Here's an english version of inflation/deflation

I've just been reading a few of the posts over on and it seems that the air travel community seems rather split between "it's not safe" and "it's an acceptable risk". But I do worry that decisions are going to be made based on PR value, not on actual safety.

However, I am also wondering what sort of actual measurements are being taken and why no one seems to be talking about them. I know that the Natural Environment Research Council flew on Thursday and Saturday to take measurements and they say that it's not safe:

I wonder if sending up weather balloons would be helpful, and whether anyone has. I also wonder whether the computer models which are providing the predictions of ash cover are being callibrated against any measurements that are taken. How reliable is the model?

The UK Air Quality site is more concerned with ground level pollution than atmospheric conditions.

I guess at this point I just have more questions than answers about the ash cloud, although I would prefer that airlines erred on the side of safety!

In other words, just because an airline is flying in certain conditions doesn't mean you have to buy the ticket. If they decide to fly and nobody buys tickets for the routes, they will get the message.

Soory but the airlines would be at fault if anyone dies. If it is just ccargo who cares it is only a risk to the pilots and crew but if you put over 100 passangers on a p;ane full well knowing that there is a great chance of something going worng and the plane going down then the airlines are to blame. The experts and even most goverments are telling them no go, they have no right to go ahead anyways.

By Chance Metz (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

The airlines do not have a point about the ash restrictions. The reason that restrictions do not affect those areas so much is that whilst there might be long-distance traffic flying through those areas they are generally either low-population density, comparatively poor nations that do not generate a great deal of air traffic or both. Japan is the exception to that rule on the list, but there the prevailing winds are from the west and there is a great deal of ocean for eruption columns to disperse over.

This eruption plume is heading over some of the busiest airspace on the planet where there are not only long-distance flights in transit but long-distance flights coming into land and taking off and also short-distance flights to consider.

It should also be borne in mind that it is not only governments and maintenance schedules that could kill off the airlines' idea. Insurance companies could do the same. I can't imagine many insurance companies being eager to assume the risk for flights through the ask cloud.

By David Newton (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

That first link from Tennyson is what I was looking for, thanks.

David Newton - Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that the airlines should start flying again, just that some do have experience dealing with ash. But yes, flying with ash at high levels over Kamchatka is very different that tens of thousands of flights at all flight levels over Europe.

"Soory but the airlines would be at fault if anyone dies."

And I disagree. If the passenger is made fully aware of the risk and chooses to fly anyway, it is the fault of each passenger if they die. They are volunteers. Nobody forced them to fly. The same might not be said for the crew unless they also fly the route on a volunteer basis.

Can anyone say Dunkirk;)

Operation volcano! Navy armada ready to pick up thousands of stranded Britons after France scuppers DIY rescue mission

By Vanessa Allen and Ray Massey
Last updated at 10:41 PM on 18th April 2010

An Armada of Royal Navy ships is poised to rescue Britons stranded by the aviation shutdown.

The dramatic operation would carry thousands of families home from Channel ports in a rerun of the 1940 Dunkirk evacuation.

Security Minister Lord West said commercial ships and amphibious landing craft could also be drafted into service.....

The airlines will not fly in dangerous conditions to make $$.
Imagine the lawsuits if 1 plane goes down. It would put that airline out of business. Many lawyers would build whole careers on that 1 case.

By Dasnowskier (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

And therefore it should not be allowed until the ash clears, if that takes a couple weeks then it tkaes a couple weeks.

By Chance Metz (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Untangling the knots of passengers stranded for days, new passengers expecting to move between points A and B once airspace opens because they have a ticket in hand, backload and ongoing perishables and mail freight, and juggling airspace overload where you have short-hop, regional, intercontinental and transcontinental air traffic queuing for lines...

A logistical nightmare. Holy cow, I hope there is intense coordination going on between flight center administration and the antsy airlines, or else even in the absence of ash effects, there will be air or runway accidents.

@ Randall Nix You got me good;-D I thought you had made up the quotes, and linked just to see what kind of page you'd set up! lol

Just to add that I also am getting the 403 error on the Stromboli images. Either they have taken them down due to traffic or due to the frustration of people hot linking to them and taxing the servers.

Chance, what if the ash doesn't "clear" for two years?

I've always been interested in volcanoes, so when I learned that an ash cloud was moving over Belgium I decided to try and collect some. I knew the chances were slim and I'd have difficulties. The first attempt with a sheet of white plastic on Thursday failed after 12 hours of collecting time. The second with a plate of aluminum yielded some material after another 12 hours, but I failed to collect it. A third attempt on Saturday of 3 hours yielded some but very little, but I managed to collect it. The forth attempt ended today after 30 hours (went to visit friends) and I managed to collect it quite well. I put a picture of the collected material at:

The material contains dust from various sources. I see larger grained material, there is probably pollen in it, but also a large fraction of very fine gray dust. Winds were very low (1-2 Beaufort). I don't know how to determine if it is ash or something else. Any suggestions?

Here is a quote for those airlines thinking about flying tomorrow;)

"Living at risk is like jumping off the cliff and building your wings on the way down."---Ray Bradbury

Then you wait two years. If that means most airlines go out of busniess then it does. I know a lot of them will but there are other ways to travel, are they as fast,no. But the ash does not affect them as much. You can always strart up again altohugh it will be like when airlines fisrt came about. You can always start over. Go by ship, car, bike or foot altohugh even I admit that last one is not really good. Point is mother natute showed us it takes one day and we are back in the 1800's again. We have to learn to live with it not try to ignore the fact or take risks that are unnessary.

By Chance Metz (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Why doesn't BA do it's strike now? It's always on strike anyway!

A flyer really can't tell what the risks are. If He/she happened to need to be back at work in London Monday and they were stuck at JFK in NYC and their boss was pushing them to be in the office for an early meeting they might decide to go and risk it with out all the facts. (they need to put bread on the table.) Closing down the airspace takes that kind of pressured decision making out of the flyers hands. That is just the tip of the iceberg with forces pushing to go or not.
In this case IMHO people have to rely on experts to know when it is safe to fly.

By Dasnowskier (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

I wonder how much the harmonic tremor can increse before something happens at the surface. Is it possible that the tremor levels will start sinking again without anything happening?

By Mattias Larsson (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

It could but then again the webcams were cloudy when ever I watched the and now it is nightime so for all we now it could have blew up and we would not know until tommroow morning.

By Chance Metz (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

@Dasnowskier #58 I'm sorry but ... WHAT?!

Airlines DO fly in dangerous conditions to make $$. Every minute of every hour of every day of every year. Air France is notorious for it, and they've been sued plenty of times. Ask anyone who has worked in air traffic services - the stories we could tell you would curl your toes.

By Frito Lay (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

"Then you wait two years. If that means most airlines go out of busniess then it does. "

The problem with that sort of thinking is that you have someone who has absolutely nothing at risk deciding the futures of literally thousands of people. So basically what you are saying is that so *you* feel better, you would rather see tens of thousand of people unemployed.

I have no problem with the airlines flying. Depending on the equipment, I might even fly. But in the end it is the decision of the individual buying the ticket and the individual flying the plane. What "the airline" decides is quite irrelevant. They can decide to offer tickets but if nobody buys them, they don't fly or if no pilot agrees to fly, they don't fly. You have to have three pieces in that equation. You have to have an airline that is willing to sell the tickets, you have to have a pilot who is willing to fly the route, and you have to have a customer who is willing to pay for the trip. Putting all the responsibility on only one factor, the airline, is a bit nonsensical.

Chances are, I would be willing the fly the route *if* I have equipment that is being flown by an experienced pilot who is also willing to fly the route. He isn't taking any more or less risk than I am. Now if I have some inexperienced, I might be less impressed that he is willing to take the risk.

The problem I have with all this kind of talk is the eagerness people have to place the responsibility onto someone else and absolve themselves of any. I say you *always* fly at your own risks and flight is inherently dangerous until humans evolve the ability to fly on their own without the assistance of a plane.

I have a view of Mt Baker out my window. I happened to look out when there was a big black vertical cloud over the top of it. After staring at these pictures for so many days my brain instantly thought "eruption!".

I'm not sure why the Jet engine mfgrs say to change the oil (I know nothing about jet turbines) but if you fly a piston engine through this stuff you should definitely change the oil. That goes for cars too; those great pictures on the other thread made me make a mental note to never buy a used car from a vulconalogist.

Air filters are designed very precisely to take out down to a particular size of particle (rated in microns) and I understand that this ash stuff is very fine. Most filters do not take out the really fine particles since you don't want excessive air restrictions. Ash in the combustion chamber will sandblast the metal parts in the chamber (and the pistion) and any that makes it past the pistion wiper rings will get into the crankcase. Changing the oil will help preserve the bearings at least, which might give you a few more years of reduced performance.

This is for a gas engine. Ash will destroy a diesel engine, no questions asked. (Unless it has milspec air filters and even then I wouldn't want to buy a used one that had been through ash.) More emissions go into the oil by design in a Diesel, and if some of that byproduct is abrasive material you have turned a finely tuned expensive machine into a large paperweight.

I suspect there will be lots of European land fleets who find themselves replacing engines a lot sooner than anticipated. I got a taste of Helens and it really is a pain in the ash.

My point too they are not afarid to take risks and they have good lawyers to get them out a a jam. What do they have to lose, reputation? Always can get more people to fly that are uniformed or just have to get somewhere.

By Chance Metz (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

"I wonder how much the harmonic tremor can increse before something happens at the surface."

Harmonic tremor generally means that stuff is moving under the surface. That could mean that a reservoir of magma is being erupted, it could mean an intrusion of new magma into the reservoir, or a combination of both.

As we are seeing deflation of the surface along with this high level of tremor, it would be easy to reach the conclusion that we are seeing a net decrease in the magma reservoir but I am not a vulcanologist so I am not going to say that with any degree of authority. It would seem that the magma reservoir is being erupted out. To what extent it is being replaced by fresher material from greater depth is anyone's guess but as the surface is deflating, it would seem that it is being replaced at a rate less than that at which it is being erupted.

I would think a lot of pilots would not want to take that risk. They are underpaid as it is and feel they are not getting paid enough for the dangeorus job they do everyday. A garbage man makes more the most pilots do that have been flying for over 20 years. As for the people who are passangers they would have no choice not to fly if there were no flights avaible now would they George? Of course not no pilots, or flights means no airplanes in the air. Did not want to get in a debate on here but I think some of my points are valid and you do not agree with them which is ok.

By Chance Metz (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

"My point too they are not afarid to take risks and they have good lawyers to get them out a a jam."

An "airline" does not fly a plane. A pilot does. A pilot is a human being. If no pilot will fly the route, then no amount of airline ticket sales will get the plane aloft. And on the other hand, no amount of pilot readiness to fly the plane will get it aloft if nobody has bought a ticket for the flight. What people need to get a grip on is just because someone is selling a ticket for a trip does not make it inherently safe to buy the ticket and take the trip.

People just want someone else to do the risk analysis for them so they don't have the opportunity to make a mistake and will have someone else to "blame" other than themselves if something goes wrong. No flight is inherently safe, ever.

;) Could someone phone a friend in Hvolsvelli and ask them to turn off the bright light shining into the webcam please.

On a related note, I just ran across this link:

Which seems to indicate the eastern coast of the US will see ash well. I realize that the ash will scatter as wind currents dictate, but does this seem reasonable to anyone else? This is a UK weather site.

The problem with the risk model is that you assume that the people involved have some way of understanding the risk. That is really impossible in a modern society. When you head to McD's you make an assumption that the health authorities have passed that resteraunt and that therefore it is safe -- otherwise it would not be open. If you get sick those of a Libertarian bent will say "shame on you for not determining that it was safe to eat there" but in the real world you just don't have access to the data. You don't get to go into the back room. If you refuse to eat at any place that doesn't submit to an intense inspection by each and every customer, then you are not going to be eating out much. (The idea that bad resteraunts go out of business -- even if true -- isn't much help if you die from what you eat there.)

The same is certainly true for air traffic. Very few people have the knowledge or skills to evaulate the airworthyness of an airframe, and even if they did they do not have the data.

The best air safety person for the US West Coast may hop on a plane in Europe in the blithe assumption that his European counterpart has made the appropriate decision on whether it is safe to fly that day. He doesn't have access to the maps and data, and besides he is on holiday.

Now I am actually going to assume that the air controllers in Europe are making decisions to the best of their professional judgement and are not being influenced by the airlines. That is why the stunts were unfortunate, in my opinion. It would be better to just have the test flights be done by the appropriate agencies -- which I am sure is happening outside of our view -- rather than high profile publicity stunts.

Strange how all the deep level EQs stopped on the 14th and yet we have this high level of tremor.

@ GeorgeR #84 - Excellent post, except for one correction. Air traffic controllers don't have the ultimate decision; it's the various countries' aviation authorities who do.

By Frito Lay (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

I don't think they will be flying very least for the next few days;)

Ash Plume to Shift Farther South through Europe
Apr 18, 2010; 4:11 PM ET meteorologists continue to examine how winds in the upper levels of the atmosphere will be set up between Iceland and Europe over the next few days as an indication to how the ash plume from an Icelandic volcano will behave and affect air travel.

It appears the plume could end up shifting farther south Tuesday into Wednesday, potentially becoming more concentrated over the U.K. and possibly even reaching Germany.

Millions of airline passengers will likely continue facing flight delays and cancellations through midweek as a result.

Forecasting the Position of the Main Ash Plume

Most recent observations as of Sunday have shown the top of the ash plume extending up to 10,000 feet, on average, above the ground. This height has dropped substantially from the 33,000 feet it was at earlier this past week after the volcano first started erupting. meteorologists are looking at the forecast direction and speed of the winds around 10,000 feet above the ground for clues as to where the ash will continue spreading over the next few days.....

if the ash alerts forecast (thank you Suw #40) is accurate to some degree, looks like we might be seeing interesting sunsets in Seattle from as early as Wednesday evening, if it isn't cloudy, and then progressively across the rest of the US.

"The problem with the risk model is that you assume that the people involved have some way of understanding the risk. That is really impossible in a modern society. "

And here we arrive at the crux of the issue. There is this school of thought that seems to believe that the "average" person is not unlike a sheep or maybe an insect and is incapable of understanding risks. And only certain other people are capable of deciding for them and generally, the only thing that separates the people who are deemed "capable" from those deemed "incapable" is that one has won an election or been appointed to a bureaucratic office by someone who has won an election.

I firmly disagree with the premise that people are not capable of making their own decisions and that bureaucrats are somehow more capable of deciding for us. It is as if there are two species of human. A sort of sub-species that "you people" belong to, and a sort of super-species that is somehow capable of deciding things for us.

I would place my judgment with the pilot before I would some government agency. If there is a pilot (actually, TWO pilots) who are willing to fly the route, I am generally fine with it. More so if those pilots have young children :) .

It is quite simple, actually. If there is an increase in volcanic ash in the air, there is going to be an increased maintenance requirement and an increased chance of equipment failure no matter what anyone "decides". Now to what degree the risk is acceptable to fly differs for everyone. What some bureau might decide is "acceptable" might be completely unacceptable to me.

A plane that flies globally and only flies into and out of the area of ash and experiences that environment for only a short period of time has a completely different impact profile from the ash than, say, a plane that operates end-to-end in the ash area for several flights each day.

So flights going to Europe to North America on equipment that operates globally have a different risk profile than a plane that makes hops around Scandinavia, for example.

So I might be quite willing to fly from London to Miami but quiet unwilling to fly from Copenhagen to Helsinki and would rather take a train or ferry or some combination of the two regardless of what some government bureau decides.

I'm probably wrong, but I'm pretty sure that Baker is doing one of its steam events, a bit larger than usual. I see some evidence on the seismo. Very intersting to see but I have nothing with a long lens to get a picture of it (wife has binocs AND camera.)

This is not a big deal, seems to happen in the early summer as meltwater gets into the caldera.

Blue sky all around yet coluds coming from the mountain. Not sure if any webcams have my angle (from the San Juan Islands.)

It looks a little like an eruption so you can look at that while waiting for a view of the real one.

George, GeorgeR, Chance: Aren't you veering way off topic?

You're basically into politics now, or should I say political ideologies.

Tremors: is it possible to triangulate tremor or geophone data to get idea of source location. Has it been tried?- and failed? Mattias #6 and I would both like to know.

By Peter Cobbold (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

#84 "-- rather than high profile publicity stunts."

..that is all they were - stunts. If the British Airways CEO was really seriously trying to make a point he would have flown to Norway - or northern Scotland. As it was, he risked a 'short hop' to Cardiff. Very brave!!

This tends to happen when the data stream gets thin.
I say back to the volcano.

By Dasnowskier (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Anna maybe but it is not comepely offtopic. the topic is about airpliens trying to get the green light to fly into a ash cloud. Polotics are invloved in this for sure.

By Chance Metz (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Does anyone remember if it's the 2nd or 3rd frame in the mulakot/myndavelar which has the view of the volcano? I think the farmer by the hvolsvelli cam got tired of the camera pointed at his house ;-)

To all those talking about oil changes: oil systems on gas turbines versus piston engines really are apples and oranges. In a piston engine, the oil has to lubricate and cool the pistons and bores - so it gets contaminated heavily with combustion products plus whatever is in the air passing through the engine.

In a turbine, the oil only has to lubricate the main bearings, which are isolated from the gas passing through the engine by labyrinth seals, plus a few assorted gears. Turbine generally go a surprising length of time between oil changes, and the oil that comes out of them is pretty damn clean, nothing like the black treacle that comes out of your car engine! And whilst they do get complete oil changes, they also get topped-up regularly, as inevitably a little oil leaks past the seals on every flight - so 'old' oil doesn't stay in the engine very long, they're more like a total loss system with a low rate of loss.

So whilst there are huge issues with ash and gas turbines, this talk about oil is a red herring as far as I'm concerned.

And yes I know a little about jet engines; I have several in my garage! :-D

"If the passenger is made fully aware of the risk"

that is the nut isn't it
how many passengers are aerospace engineers specializing in propulsion systems or the avionics systems and also have a side degree as a vulcanologist that esoteric collection of knowledge is what is needed to make a honest risk assessment

Anna, I believe the topic of this thread is airlines lobbying EU government agencies to allow them to fly. That is inherently a political topic.

It sure is and one that needs to be slolved. We don't want to se on the news anyithng about a airplane diaster in Europe and there is a very good chance of that if they let them fly. Talk about a I told you so moment.

By Chance Metz (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

The Hvolsvelli cam's back to its normal self, but unfortunately it's already dark outside! :( Not that it matters anyway - it's been pretty much overcast there today.

"that esoteric collection of knowledge is what is needed to make a honest risk assessment"

I disagree. It can be put very simply to the passenger:

"There is volcanic ash in the air. Volcanic ash is harmful to mechanical devices, jet engines in this case. The risk of a mechanical problem on this flight is higher than normal. Do you understand that?"

Nix and Passerby are correct. A 1008 high is developing over Iceland and at a pretty good clip too (90 mph) with the flow to the SE at 300 mb (call it 25,000 to 30,000) adjusted for the local barometer. So its going to be aiming at the UK for starts and likely blowing sideways like a candle. Its a little shot off of the polar jet. As I said before the jet pivots over Iceland as a rule. In a couple of weeks it might be dumping more in Poland/Russia than it is in W. Europe.

It also might make it at the lower levels to Nova Scotia but not the US. Pressures are increasing over here as evidenced by the clear skies. Bermuda will likely get a taste.

Anna-is the vodafone link still saying forget it on your end? Anyone know what the deal is and why its down? Too much traffic or is the site down?

Anyone gotten an image out of it today outside of Iceland?

New ticket requirement for BA passengers to the US... After you get through with the body cavity search, you go to the pool for swimming lessons and how to don a survival suit in 5 minutes or less.

I doubt they will fly folks because the hazards are so well known. CNN/Sky News would be flipping out if there was a MAYDAY call and talk about abuse of the airlines when it happened ?

When the ash advisories are dropped from RED they will fly, likely not before w/wo politics.

If nothing else the expense of replacing even one engine prematurely or having to pull it out of service to repair a front section or god forbid the combustion chamber turbine blades will keep them honest. Me, I wouldnt go for at least two weeks after the first one goes up. You know they will fudge just as soon as possible. I would too......

By M. Randolph Kruger (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

for me i call it quits on chattering about air travel in hazardous situation --did enough of it in the 8 years i was a FE on P3 Orions engine loss on a plane with 4 engines was annoying enough but on a 2 engine pax hauler ------

@frito lay, thanks

Another thing that isn't being taken into account by folks who might be spring loaded to reach the "evil rich airlines placing people at risk to make a buck" conclusion.

If it proves too expensive to operate equipment in the ash environment, the airlines will stop the flights no matter what the government decides. Planes are expensive. Airlines are not in the business of crashing them. Maintenance is expensive. They are not in the business of doing things that cause increased wear out of components.

If they decide to fly, they could well come to the conclusion that doing so is too expensive due to required maintenance. All it will take is the replacement of a few engines to completely wipe out the profit from flying many flights.

An airline that decides to sacrifice maintenance for profit finds itself out of business anyway as customers avoid that carrier. In a competitive market like Western Europe, such a carrier would find themselves operating at a loss after a very short time.

Allowing flight, if the airlines and the pilots believe it is safe to do so, will possibly spur innovation in advancement of systems and equipment that are capable of operating better in that environment. The result is better equipment for everyone. It gives the environment for adaptation and innovation to occur. Simply grounding things might prevent that innovation and adaptation taking place.

If I were the government, I would poll the equipment manufacturers and the pilots and put more weight on what they have to say than on what the airline says.

George #100:

"I believe the topic of this thread is airlines lobbying EU government agencies to allow them to fly."

And you are proposing that the airlines should argue that their customers should be allowed to assess the risk themselves?

Way off topic in my opinion. Not that I'm against people discussing whatever they want to discuss.

There's only one thing that worries me more than when our Lady Eyja has gone quiet. It's when Jón FrÃmann has gone quiet. :-)

By Frito Lay (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

@110: Or when the tremor charts have gone quiet (stopped updating) at a time other than 23:50 UTC.

"And you are proposing that the airlines should argue that their customers should be allowed to assess the risk themselves?"

Not entirely. What I am saying is that if the equipment manufacturers and pilots feel that it is safe to fly, that the airlines should be allowed to do so as long as the passenger is informed that there is a risk of mechanical trouble that is higher than normal and at that point the customer makes their own call. They are simply informed that they are flying in "abnormal" conditions and there is an increased risk of something going wrong and nobody is going to be to "blame" if something does go wrong due to volcanic ash if they choose to fly.

Chance Metz - I agree. This is becoming an increasing face-off seemingly dictated by loaded interests. Certainly, one murmur yet to surface is the reaction between the movers and shakers of the airline industry and insurance companies. On what fine balances do both exist?
It is disingenuous for George#90 to imply passengers should understand the potential risk when clearly already, despite full insurance, many at least are not covered.
Anyway, back to ground-effects...

Here is a story below and Gina who was either Royal Navy, Norwegian or US very likely can appreciate the words, "flameout" as I could on a C-131 (Convair) from just generally crappy maintenance.

We ARE kinda whipping it whether they should fly or not. If they are dumb enough then let them go, both airlines and pilots and insurance companies then why not?

People do have a choice and its all about whether you want to test nature or not. Me, I spent too many years in combat situations to go out and try the system..... So you get home a week earlier, or not at all?

Really, they should just put everyone on the bus or trains and send them to Madrid, Lisbon, Rome, Algeciras and then they are out of it and on their way. Thats going to cost a bunch for sure but what the heck. If the ash is up there and they get it wrong then we all know what will happen...Simple and to the point.. They will have made a bad and costly decision.

Different countries, different situations but at what point in time would it be manslaughter? Criminally negligent, Prima Facie cases... I think they are just talking stuff up to push the agencies to take the heat.

For me its like trying to parse a subject. Clear evidence says you do it, you could die or have a really bad day. They choose to ignore or try to parse the VAAC advisories and that of their various air minstries then who is it going to be on?

LIke I said 20 or so flights into it and see what happens. There are no standards that I know of to clear a flight for ash size, only that it exists. They know the altitudes, they know the area and they know its on the ground. Time to go to bed and hope the webcams are up tomorrow cause Passerby/Nix's 1008 mb high is going to clear Iceland out weather wise by tomorrow morning, then it goes to hell tomorrow night and Tuesday and then clear for nearly the rest of the week. Yay! Can I have my Iceland MTV back please?…

By M. Randolph Kruger (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Occasionally, I'm caught unawares of a weather pattern. A good example is the a warm-weather clockwise rotation that can funnel mid-western US pollution down over the Gulf into Mexico and then push it northward into northern Mexico-US border area of Texas (BRAVO air quality study, 2005).

I need an explanation from someone knowledge here, how you can have wind stream carriage of volcanic ash from Iceland to the eastern shores of the maritime provinces, close to the US border. Does not appear to match prevalent wind patterns.

If that was the case George why would the airlines be pressing the EU to let them start flying now? I think they want to be in the air now and who cares about the risks. The pilots are not saying let's lift this no fly ban. The passangers for the most part know what the danger is and the manufacters would tell you it is a bad idea. The bottom line is the AIRLINES are the ones who are crying to the goverment about losing all of this money a day and to please let us fly as we have done tests flights that show it is safe. Now are those tests just a scam? I would want to see the pictures that show no dmamage and if they do not have that then I would take it as a lie.

By Chance Metz (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

This lull would be a great time to learn Icelandic.

This video seems pretty easy to follow:

[add the www]

By Frito Lay (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink


Notice in your point you make the same assumption that you parody in the first sentence. You trust the pilot why? Because they have nice uniforms? Pilots in general are very skillful at what they do, but they do not have much experience in vulconalogy, engine design or fine particle detection.

Neither do bearucrats, but the point of a government is that it employs people with special skills that may be rarely "needed" but are sometimes critical. The people who are elected (you will agree with this surely) are mostly mouthpeices who are good at communicating things to people. Their job is to take the heat for the people who do have the special skills to make this kind of decision and to throw money their way when the public isn't quite as focussed on air safety or volcanoes.

Now perhaps one can believe that you can learn everything that you need to know about volcanoes from a quick reading of a website or a gander at Wikipedia but that isn't true. This isn't an "elites" vs "sheep" issue. Bill Gates is a very sharp guy and probably would have been near the top of his class if he studied Vulcanology or Aeronautics -- but as far as I know he didn't. He spent four, six or eight years differently. His opinion on whether it is safe to fly is as good as mine -- which means not at all. When he gets on a plane, he is trusting in a huge chain of skill from the Pilot on upwards that are ensuring that it is safe to fly that plane today. (Nowadays he may have his own pilot but that just moves one link from the chain.)

In some ways this reminds me of the H1N1 epidimic -- and it probably does you for a different reason. I see the lack of a huge pandemic as an indication of the efficiency of the response. You probably see it as a big waste of time. Without a time machine we have no real way to tell the difference, all we can rely upon are studies which people who are anti-expert will discount anyway.

The problem is that when the technicians get it right, there is no news. We will certainly know if the airspace is opened in error as planes fall from the sky (we know it can happen.) As far as the public cares we will never know if it was closed in error -- aside from the aeronautical measurements done that indicate a dangerous amount of ash above the sky in Europe.

What I find really funny are the people who say that the skys look clear so there is nothing to worry about. I suppose these are the same people who stick forks into the electric socket because they can't see electricty?

There are seismometers (pressure sensors) that are directional, here is an example

You can roughly triangulate with two or more seismometer stations.

I don't know for certain if the suite of tremor sensors around the Eyjaf-Katla system can point to a specific location and depth of signal origin, but I kinda doubt it - to locate any subsurface signal, you must know and have modeled area geomorphology to depth, really carefully. You use these models to 'relocate' earthquakes whose signal path is perturbed by the intervening rock structure.

If you could locate a discrete signal source, it would not a trivial matter to compute. I think it tremor sensors tell you something about the depth and signal speed, and may point to different types of tectonic events, but they are not directional as far as I know.

There seems to be a large glowing red area on the webcam right now visible even beyond the lights of the farmhouses.

Can I please pick someone's brain for a few figures that are probably common knowledge but that I don't have the time or knowledge to find...

-How much does it cost to build a 747 or 777 from scratch
-How much maintenance expense to keep one in operation per year, or say 20+ years
-What is the average lifespan of the commercial passenger jet today, is there a pre-determined lifespan?

Thank you

I nominate GeorgeR 's #119 post as Post of the Day:

What I find really funny are the people who say that the skys look clear so there is nothing to worry about. I suppose these are the same people who stick forks into the electric socket because they can't see electricity?

And yes, Garcon!. Another volcano please. With lava. Hold the Mayon.

By Frito Lay (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

A way off topic analogy perhaps. If you want to know about boating in Puget Sound and B.C. I am a good person to talk to. I have boated most of my life and have lived here a long time. I will give you good advice.

If you want to know about boating in the Baltic Sea, you should ask somebody who has boated there. It isn't that Baltic boaters are better boaters than I am, but you need to find somebody who has spent their life in that region if you want good advice.

The same is true across specalties. The problem is that a whole bunch of people have suddenly found themselves in an unknown sea. It will take some time to get it charted out and safe to navigate. I'm confident we will eventually, but it may take longer than is convenient.

Wow, the signal-to-noise ratio has really changed here. No offense intended, but perhaps the econo/politico/aviation conversations can be moved to a site better suited to that subject matter.


Not directional? One of very few times I felt earth tremors was in Iceland while laying flat on my back.

Few things have felt more directional than that experience.

@Passerby [#115]

You've got me too. 250mb still shows the normal eastward moving jet, and down at 500 and 925 air would have to move in via north of Maine. About the only thing going to the Eastern Seaboard would have to be via surface level winds, which show a High/Low pattern that could conceivably move something in at about 48 deg lat.

With the missing semi-persistent Icelandic Low, and the lack of an Azores/Bermuda High, it's gonna be an interesting hurricane season anyway.

Yep the claasical I can't see anyihing so it must not exist. Just like you can't see air but you know it's there.

By Chance Metz (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Carla, this wasn't a volcanism thread as far as I can tell, the original topic is one of lobbying the EU government by airlines. Opinions on that subject would seem to be "on topic" and likely to generate a lot of "noise" as any opinions one does not share might be experienced as "noise".

@ George. Fair enough. Carry on.

Oh everything is fine now, since KLM has said it is safe...

More seriously, err if it can be, but alot of the airlines were in serious trouble before this. Personally I doubt they really care too much beyond getting flying again, and dealing with other potential problems as they come up next week or next month.

So after suffering from mathematics for the last 20 yrs, I am wondering what stats they are prepared to accept. Which admitedly is amoral, but is it ok to lose say one plane a week, maybe 3 a fortnight? Compared to shutting down Europe?
Not saying it is right or wrong, I think the ash risks are clear, but I bet some people are thinking about these stats right now. The actuaries will be for sure.

I also wonder about how the unions will react? The airline unions are notorious already, perhaps some danger money on euro flights?

On the actual safety aspects, I find it very sad these days how lowly scientific expertise has come to be viewed. Admittedly to a large extent through our own faults with the public.

But again getting mathematical, it is bordering on absurd to fly half a dozen test flights on short hops in Europe and say it is safe. It is purely a statistical issue. Putting up 30 planes is not the same as putting up 30,000 no matter how much some people may want to distort things.

The majority of planes will get through fine...some wont, the question simply becomes how many wont, and what is the number people are prepared to accept as a risk?

A more general example is the seals swimming with the sharks off South Africa, right now we have 6 six seals that swam past - hey no problems at all - what is the fuss? So does that mean it is safe for the other 30,000 seals to swim out? Some will get eaten...

In the end it comes down to simple risk, I imagine plenty of people would take the risk right now just to get home after being stuck at airports around the world for a week. Just like the seals will have to go get food, sharks or not, still even the seals are not dumb enough to jump in when they see the sharks circling.

In the end it will simply be how many potential losses are publicly acceptable.

I guess, 'lobbying' summarizes everything under this headline. I understand that this is a new phenomenon for Europe and there is no common approach or mechanism in the European Union. Therefore, there will be meetings in EU tomorrow to discuss the developments. The interesting thing is the experimental approach that the countries are taking. For example, Ukraine opened airport without the need or advice of any international or transnational institution. I think bigger economies with bigger companies see this developments - opening smaller airports, working smaller companies - as an opportunity. Maybe it is more valuable than the test flights for them. What I see, maybe because of its close location to 'ash-zone', UK postpones its decision to observe the prospective cases with the other countries as an experiment, but this is a risky game. Lack of general decision-mechanism will be costly for any country in the European Union. I hope there will not be any accidents, but if there will be, then it is not any single government's fault: it will be the fault of all governments, in short, EU's.
Secondly, I wish to see some comments on probabilities. For example, should 2-3 or 8-9 test flights reassure us? Even the smallest probability of an accident will cause panic, bankruptcy of a company and even worse loss of lives.

I accept this is something new for all governments, institutions and organizations, but no-flight policy is definitely not a overstated approach. People love to hear sensational news, panic, terror etc. and media did it in the case of swine flu. However, being cautious is a must in this case. The companies should not act in panic: as many of the commentators indicate one accident would result the loss of the initiative and reliability of governments, companies and the aviation authorities.

By fire walk with me (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

@ Passerby #122 Thanks for your explanation. I always wondered with what kind of accuracy "epicentres" could really be pinpointed and now I have more of a 4D than a 2D idea.

By Frito Lay (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

I am reminded of the NASA mindset prior to the Challenger disaster. Politicians and executives would do well to remember that, ultimately, physics is not subject to voting.

By Benjamin Franz (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

I don't like them playing Russian Roulette above my house.
We are currently in the hotspot for day's now. (Belgium)

i can be prepared for falling dust. Not for failing and falling airplaines. Our military plains are a disaster
even in good times. lol

@Koen65 I to collected Yellow-ish dust the day before yesterday. sinds then no more exta dust particles.
i have a white paper on the balconyfloor (no wind) and nothing is sticking to my finger anymore.

Spoken of dustparticles

OT This cloud is hanging over N&W-Europe for several day's now.
The "hotspot erea" is hanging exactly above our head for the same number of day's.

It used to be +15 +18 NO2 (how many monecules)
According this website

I know it has changed to yellow now. but it will soon be red again.
This cloud is supposed to be at an altitude between 2 and 5km.
There has been zero wind and clouds for all that period.
It only gets creepy when it falls down i understand.
But what is the mechanisme that makes it fall down?
Absolute no wind? or warm things go up and cool things come down? or is it just bad luck because it goes with the flow? Some-one bored enough to make time and tell it to me?
I do not suspect it is coming down this moment.

New clouds are coming in tomorrow with more of this stuff.
So let's say i want to live another month, what is the max number of molecules i can inhale?
not to panic but to get some sort of indication what those
high numbers mean. (15+ 18+)

I know down here they are much much lower.
But if this eruption don't give up (I don't see it slow down). it has a very short history of taking a slightly deeper breath every once and a while. of course it will slow down sometime, question is, when!
So if the wind does not change more fine dust will come our direction.

I did google but the mostly i found was experiments on rats
with a monthlong 3.5 ppm exposure etc.
But those numbers above our head are way higher i think.
So i like to know what numbers (colors) are safe and when it becomes dangerous.
(using above mentioned site)

I don't see me walking arround indoors with a N95 on my mouth and taped windows allover.
but i like to know when it's time to muzzle my lovely wife and tell the kid to play indoor.
So where does it get to start dangerous (in numbers) on groundlevel ?


@ Scott #134 So you're suggesting pilots are like well-trained seals? Check out the comments on forums and then tell me that "even the seals are not dumb enough to jump in when they see the sharks circling."

Ok back to Interesting Things to Bookmark - a clickable world seismic monitor: [www]

By Frito Lay (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Ok, the tremor plots are back online. Looks like 20 hours or so of this elevated tremor and an eyeballing of it looks like generally it is still increasing in trend. The inflation plots look like they are daily and today's has already been plotted (deflating). There isn't enough moonlight to show anything at night but it looks like with the exception of Tuesday, the weather in Iceland is forecast to be clear so we should have some excellent pictures this week.

"Well, does it take more guts to twice traverse a staircase in a burning building, or to make a one-time leap into a volcano? Damned if I know, Kimosabe. All I know is when you're making those kind of calls, you're up in the high country."
Joe Versus the Volcano

Frank-who-was-ill, it gets dangerous when a persistent smelly, dank acidic fog forms. These conditions have formed historically in Europe and North America, most recently in the mid-20th century, but it's been rare since then, because pollution emission levels have fallen as much s 70-85% since the worst years.

I say take prudent action, but you can't live in doors. Use an in-house air filter, avoid exercising or driving with the car windows open, if you can.

It will eventually get better.

This page is for you:

Re: George @ 141

OK ... I have a geology degree - only a B.Sc - so am not in the same league as Boris and Erik, but I also don't need to worry about my professional reputation and so I can speculate:)

I've been watching these plots on and off for the last few days and I suspect that there is a lot happening beneath the volcano. Without a doubt there is magma moving down there somewhere - hence the harmonic tremors - and since we know that in Iceland the juvenile magmas are very hot and can burst forth with very little warning we can assume that something is brewing. Sadly the volcano was enveloped in cloud today so we don't know what was happening up there. Nevertheless I am sure we can expect an increase in activity in the caldera sometime very soon - within 24 to 36 hours. That in my view is the statistically most likely outcome.

Also possible is a flank eruption in a new area. We already saw this with the initial eruption and with very hot basaltic magma moving around under the volcano we should not underestimate the possibility of a surprise. Hot channels of magma thrusting in a new direction may also explain the deflation that the GPS is recording.

There's definitely flashes lighting up the low cloud ceiling at the Hvols cam now

By Frito Lay (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

I'm definitely noticing a glow in the Hvolsvelli cam in the distance. The way it persists and the reddish tint at times, it can't be volcanic lightning - it's likely incandescent lava being ejected from the summit. It's particularly visible right now, even as I write this! Not unlike that picture Dr. Klemetti put up in the beginning of this thread.

Strong glow above the mountain through the haze on the Hvolsvelli cam at the moment, and I don't think it's lightning, it's more a continuous glow (although fading in and out a bit) as of an eruptive event.

Also watching, definitely an orange/red colour to the flashes.

By Helen Leggatt (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

@passerby So it doesn't measure the fine dust particles
coming from Iceland?
Because that was falling down here a few days ago.
So only smog levels are measured on this website.

Also watching, definitely an orange/red colour to the flashes. In fact, just been a HUGE one...

By Helen Leggatt (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

@Frankill The following is a link to the California Air Resources Board latest announcement on NO2. It's got links to more information, and it is driven by childrens' health

I just saw the glow of mt. doom too. Must be clearing up, but we've not seen that kind of glow before. Creepy.

The Helka cam is up again...

Definite glow from the summit on the Hvolsvelli cam. Not lightning as the glow is constant. Too bad there is so much light in the foreground.

I think the Katla cam is pointing at EJ now.

By Dasnowskier (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Thanks Dasnow. I can't tell my Heklas from my Katlas anymore. Speaking of which, does anyone have the link to the Hekla cam?

By Frito Lay (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

A few minutes back I saw what definitely looked like big spurts on the Hvosvelli cam. Don't think that's moon set.

By Jennifer B (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Ok, I see what you mean. Yeah, that looks like some incandescence from the eruption.

I saw those spurts too. They went away and returned. I dont think its the moon either.

Frank-who-was-ill, it means that you have a persistent pollution signature that is unique to your area, and that you now have an additional risk factor in the form of ash fall exposure, as the plume oscillates over the western european lowlands, for reasons of topology and prevalent winds at surface and aloft.

Pollutants also settle and concentrate at ground level during high pressure anticyclone weather patterns. That is dictated in part by the NAO and ENSO climate ensembles.

(we may as well make this a learning experience)

See where it took a dive to negative values recently? That roughly corresponded to Eyjafs eruption date.

Bad Eyjaf! Bad Timing!

We have a very stable high pressure system that is slow moving, whirling, and has a complicated air pressure column mixing regime.

It's one of several unusual factors that are vastly complicating efforts by European airspace authority in making decisions on flight safety.

George I don't think that's the moon on the Katla cam....the moon sets in the West....I think Dasnowskier is right they must have the cam pointed at Eyjafjallajökull

Holy cow! If that glow is from the fissure, then it would seem to have grown to quite a large size.

The glow on the Hvolsvelli cam's becoming more frequently seen. But then again, it could be due to weather clouds clearing up. I'm wondering if Eyjaf might eventually build a lava shield. If that's the case, then maybe the volcano would stop spewing out so much ash. Similar to what happened with Surtsey in the '60s. By the time Surtsey started to get big enough as an island and send out lava flows, it pretty much cut off the supply of water/steam to the magma and ended up erupting less explosively and more effusively. I'm sure that would be music to the ears of those in the aviation industry and stranded passengers! Unfortunately, it's too early for us to know for sure.

It looks for sure like the Hvolsvelli cam is showing activity at the summit. It will be interesting to see what daylight brings. Perhaps anyone in the area can report if they can hear explosions or can feel tremors.

The glow appears to cover a broad area so perhaps a larger eruption is now happening within, or in the vicinity of the summit caldera. Of course in the absence of daylight this is speculation on my part.

@169, it was the moon, I watched it set. It is gone now. Set about 45 min ago, now. I watched it for about an hour.

Yet another toy to play with Passerby-Its funneling it between the high thats moving in to the SW with the low to the south of Iceland.

Cool looking sunrise.... Have let it load though and you can physically see it moving to the WSW. It ejected yesterday late to the S and then SW and its being carried by that funneling. Not much, but enough to post the advisory to almost N. Scotia.

For all. The advisory criteria is simple, any visible or detected ash gets the warning. Thats it, de nada over and out. Why? Because no one can accurately measure it at altitude because they cant fly through it. Then some bozo could do a paper and say that the educated opinion is that its okay to fly in it but expect problems with the Air Data systems, the APU's, leading edge and turbine blade erosion. So whats that worth? Its never just one thing that puts one in. So the AD system gets plugged up and then the engines start to surge because it doesnt know how fast the plane is going, or worse it thinks its going too fast and cuts the engines. The pilot takes over and he is looking at a display of the same thing the computer is and he has to go back to flying by the seat of his pants. Not many cropduster captains out there. Then you have to get it down. The windshield is whited out by the ash by a zillion microscopic hits and he cant even see out the front. Cant on the big ones anyway until the nose comes down but you are looking through the side DV (Direct Vision) glass thats maybe only half crazed up. Yeah, they are lobbying but its money related. You pays your money, you takes your chances. . On the way back from town tonight I was listening to the radio and that parsing is there. They flew un-passengered aircraft (30 I believe without incident). Hmmm.... Just found out that they were only 1 hr flights and they climbed up and through the crap to a safe flight level.

So using that they are lobbying to get back into the air. In other words they acknowledge that its not safe unless someone other than the airlines says so. Thats not testing, thats testing what could happen.

Latest ash graphics... Its pumping only to about 16,000 now. But the remaining ash is still from SFC to 35,000. Bad to fly in if its there as the EGT (exhaust gas temperatures) and EPR's (engine pressure ratios) would be very high. Able to melt and then accrete the stuff very quickly. It was also clear in most of the EU today...What happens when you add water to this stuff? Does it rain out, does it get excluded through the high bypass on the outside of the engine and accrete on the outside of the burner can? If that happens and I think it already did with the Finn F-18's then it wouldnt transfer heat to the air and the engines would overheat. Like I said with one engine in a runaway, cutting power or out you got problems, with two you get the big egg roll.

The ministers are going to meet tomorrow to discuss the problem... They'll be taking the train.

By M. Randolph Kruger (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Hmmm, well, if the moon set 45 mins ago, what on earth is that on Katla cam right now?!

By Helen Leggatt (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Well, "set" in that it went behind the hill basically directly in the center of the image. The moon didn't officially "set" in Iceland until sometime after that. But I watched it a good long time hoping the plume would drift in front of it and I could get some idea of the density of the ash cloud but no such luck, it is apparently drifting in a different direction.

@Jon, you may want to check your site for some nasty stuff. I tried to get on it and my antivirus program told me there were 37 risks on it. I just wanted to let you know.

I don't know if anyone posted this or not so if it is a repeat, sorry about that.

I just chekced the AVO and Okmok is emitting steam and H2S. Not a lot, but they have a picture of it with the article. It may or may not do something more. They didn't say anything other than what it is doing right now.

There are so many posts I can't keep up. LOL

@Frankill If you want more info Google Cal ARB and you'll pull up links. They use google for their search engine.

I'm with JenniferB I'm seeing things that look like boulders blown up and then landing. I checked moon charts, it's waning, probably not enough light to get through the clouds we've been looking at the last few days.

Yes, I can see that glowing area on the cam and it would appear that the fissure is now quite wide as sometimes the incandescent area is "wider" than that house on the hill in the middle of the image. Considering how far away that fissure is from the camera, that would imply that it has grown quite large.

I just clearly saw orange incandescent material ejected which was present over about 5 frames. Pretty spectacular.

To use my technical knowledge of vulcanology...there is definitely fragmented red stuff shooting up from the top of the volcano right now. Even through the noise on the CCD it is pretty clear.


Large red stuff flying through the air. Just like what you would think a volcano would look like.

Hvolsvelli cam. Thank you for this blog and everybody who found the sites to look at this with. Amazing to be sitting here near Seattle watching a volcano in Iceland go off in real time.

I saw that too, woodson.

Isn't that a bit low to be the crater? jpg just posted makes it very unlikely to be the moon.

Hesitate to post this.. but...Is it a flank fissure eruption?

Could someone go and remove that reflective road-sign (or whatever it is) that is ruining our viewing pleasure on the Hvolsvelli cam? ;0)

By Helen Leggatt (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Yes GeorgeR- I'm watching this amazing fireworks dsiplay from Cairns in Australia and it is really hotting up. This is most night time activity I have seen since starting my watch.

@passerby That the answer i was looking for. it all makes sense now. Also got some links to chew on now ;)
Thanks Parclair

Can someone call the Dude in the House on the Hill and ask him to please turn that light off? (-:

By Frito Lay (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Whereever it is, a big peice of it just flew off. This is spectacular. The cam is a long way away but I'm not sure I'd want to be in that house...

Hey Frito Lay- I bet that dude on the hill has changed his underwear a few times just recently-lol.


@Tom - no doubt. I think I might soon too!

By Frito Lay (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Yeouza! It is sure throwing a lot in the air. Makes me wonder what is really going on up there besides that!

It looks like lava fountaining at times. How deep is the bottom of the crater? The ice cap was 600 feet deep so is it possible that this is emanating from the bottom of the crater?

Is it growing larger as we watch? It seems to have mooved leftish!

Would someone be so kind as to explain what we are currently witnessing :)

@ parclair - both. It goes from about 11 oclock to 12:05 but the brightest spot is almost at 12. So far.

By Frito Lay (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

I think it is getting larger.

Does anyone have a daylight screen capture from the Hvolsvelli cam?

I think we are watching magmetic incandescence, ejecta, ash cloud ilumination and at times, perhaps low-level lightning/particle static discharge.

Tom, it is called an eruption! Seriously, I have no idea except it looks like some of it is coming from the left and going to the right. Some of it may be light coming from the fissure and lighting up the ash/steam cloud. Then there could be some lightning also. It definitely looks like some of it is being thrown out of the crater and that can be rather scary at this point because if that is happening, it is very powerful because of the depth. I am for possibly some ice being thrown up and also some fountaining from maybe a new fissure. I am really guessing because the resolution is not good and we have so much light contamination.

Hope this helps and I am sure others have also answered before I did.

Sunrise is in two hours there. We should start getting some twilight in about 30 min or so.

@Diane, My site ? It should be secure and I run a virus proof computer (Gentoo Linux).

Daylight is coming in Iceland now. You can see it slowly starting.


I overlayed the images against each other -- the glowing is coming from the crater most definitely!

Commercial pilots' training on ash avoidance (if they are trained, and some are) is very minimal. If they notice strange smells (due to SO2) and notice St. Elmo's fire (but only if there are strange smells) they should take action to avoid the plume - whatever action that may be is left to the pilots.

The only problem with the funny smells bit is that the SO2 will not necessarily be where the ash is nor is it any indicator of how much ash is there. But if pilots notice it they are advised to avoid anything that looks like a widespread haze or cloud. Another clue to take action is if they notice the windscreen go hazy or if engines flame out. Pretty sophisticated procedures, eh?

These "test flights" are nothing but propaganda; remember that this is a dynamic system and the dust doesn't stay in one place. There is no established safe amount of sand in the air so making a few flights and saying "look, we didn't crash" isn't very useful.

If aircraft were instrumented to do particle size and number measurements (and preferably also discriminate between water/ice particles and sand) then such 'test flights' may be of some value. It would be even better if the people who make the engines did tests (on the ground) to determine performance degradation and damage for different particle sizes and amounts. Since a single engine can cost you quite a few million I don't see much incentive for the manufacturers to perform such tests on their engines.

The measurement techniques used for infrared satellite data analysis can be applied to airborne instruments but as far as I know no instruments have been developed to fly, so for now you just have to trust the warnings from the VAACs responsible for any particular FIR. But even if that instrumentation were available for aircraft, there are a broad range of conditions in which the instrumentation would not detect the volcanic ash (the problem would be worst at altitudes below ~6km, which is below the cruise altitude for long flights, so the instrumentation would work best on the long flights).

By MadScientist (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Thanks Diane & Passerby. This realyy is amazing to watch such a spectacular display.


The valah cam is completely black, it must be dead or covered!

@parclair - have been pondering the same thing - sat watching Val cam for ages thinking perhaps we needed ejections of a great height to see it.. but nothing.. I guess it's just the angle, although I'd still expect to see some sort of glow / lightening of the sky... weird.

By Helen Leggatt (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Thanks @Frito and @Helen. Ah, lightness.

Anybody want to hazard a guess on how big those white dots that we see flying through the air are?

You can just make out the plume now. Wow, such a great show...

Theres a dot on the mulakot cam. I'm not sure if I saw speckles on the valah cam.

The time is 03:27. We have about an hour before the tops of the clouds will start to illuminate the column. Sunrise is at 05:43 in Reykavik and the volcano is a good 5200 feet higher than that at 49 feet, the column is as high as it is. So call it about 30 minutes before it starts to turn lighter.

By M. Randolph Kruger (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Did we just lose the cam?

Im getting disconnected signal. I think everyone watching broke it :(

Dirty dogs disconnected it one us! What was with the search-lights in the lower near-field?

@ GeorgeR Do you know how far away the webcam is? Did someone say a few days ago that it's 44 kms or am I thinking of another cam?

By Frito Lay (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Cam is back.

I think the lights (right hand side) are a car - wish I was in it!

By Helen Leggatt (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

It's back now

Im getting disconnected signal. I think everyone switching from watching to posting broke it :(

that was scary, glad it came back. and thank you to all who post here

False alarm - its back on. He might have just put out the candle that we ahve looking at all night.

@George R: Yes, the engine manufacturers do not want to say anything which would make them appear liable if there is an incident in the future. With each flight you will have to inspect the turbofans for signs of scouring and accumulation of sand on the leading and trailing edges. You also have to check the filters for signs of sand - unfortunately to do a proper job you need a microscope and some experience so you have a good idea if there is an unusually high amount of sand in there. You also have to check for excessive vibrations. If you believe there is something unusual the next recommended test is to remove the engine and send it off for a painstaking disassembly and inspection; since you will be waiting a few months at best to possibly get a workign engine back, it is also recommended that you purchase and install a new engine. There seem to be no controlled tests ever done though so no one can make any definitive statements. All the published articles I recall about volcanic ash and aircraft safety are highly speculative except for the obvious "if there's too much ash you'll be in trouble" as (Ret.) Captain Moody knows from experience.

By MadScientist (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

It maybe that we have just witnesed the best shots that we will see all day - there appears to be some very heavy cloud/ash in the area.

MRK - thanks for the great animation graphic. Answered my question, just as you had explained. Boy, it's more complex pattern than I had thought!

I don't think that's typical for the North Atlantic, although I've seen some hair-pin polar winds convolutions that caused strange looking circulation patterns in the past.

We'll be likely sending smoke haze towards Europe shortly. Idiots are burning their fields, prepping for summer crop planting like crazy right now.

It looks like there is a plume coming from the left hand side of the screen!

I think this the first time we've had the weather conditions to see the 3rd event: No low clouds to speak of, a hearty wind from cam left to right (south to north?) So all the ejecta is blowing off so we can see the fissure eruption. (Which would explain the vlah cam-- it's under the ash cloud. Also the Katla showing stuff-- it's been under the ash cloud before now.)

@ Mike it sure does, doesn't it?

By Frito Lay (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Katla faces west, correct? Why does it have such a big glow?

I think there's more than one plume now too. I captured parts of the last half hour to an avi file and will put up a link as soon as I find a place to host it. (I recorded 1 frame per second, but the files are still big.)

By Tennyson Lee (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

@Mike/Frito - At first I thought it was just low cloud coming in, but it does appear to be being "generated" off the left of the screen - what's that in the direction of?

By Helen Leggatt (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

3rd event? hat did I miss? And Katla now too?

Tremor amplitude has crested finally. EQ signature over the MAR in Iceland is very persistent.

Yes, it does look like another plume. In which direction would the original fissure lie in this view? I wonder if it reactivated. That might explain why the hvo tremor plot suddenly changed at around 1700 on 17APR.

@ parclair - The experts here tell me Holsvelli cam is at 9 oclock to the crater (i.e. facing east), which means if the wind is from the left, it would be from the north, no?

(I'm still trying to get my head around that, since this view is always the brightest first thing in the morning, so you'd think we're looking at the east side of the mountain and not the west).

Anyone..feel free to clue me in lol

By Frito Lay (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Someone please help - I am looking at Val cam - now becoming lighter - and can see what I think is a dark flow of some sort right of centre - it appears to be growing? Am I seeing things/shadows/light play or is there something there?

By Helen Leggatt (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Here in western Washington, the moon was just a tiny sliver last night so I would very much doubt that it would be responsible for the glow. Eruptive activity make much more sense.

By Doug Merson (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

And along the bottom of the Val cam - movement which looks like a plume/cloud/smoke/steam?

By Helen Leggatt (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

To be clear, Katla volcano is quiet at this moment. No change there. There is partial cloud cover over Eyjafjallajökull volcano at this moment. Lets hope it clears up as the day comes along. The wind direction is almost north now.

If that stuff moving from left to right is anything other than morning fog, then the story has gotten a whole lot bigger. Our lady is 5000ft tall, so the field of view in this screen is 100 miles or more. (I live near the Cascades, mountains always look much closer and smaller than they are.)

It looks like fog to me but that is just an impression.

Frito-hit that link to the Eumetsat that I sent for Passerby. Look down on it and you can get 9 o'clock easy. Better than that, someone get on the phone to voda and tell them to fire up the much better cameras quick before we DO have to see it on the N. Geographic channel.

By M. Randolph Kruger (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Parclair, that one on APOD is my favorite by Marco Fulle. He is a volcanologist/photographer and he has taken some awesome pictures of volcanoes. Cool stuff.

I think....Low level clouds caused by temps dropping at daybreak (coldest part of the night), at the edge of the glacier where the temp differential is highest, immediately adjacent to marine air mass.

Helen it looks like the top half of Val cam is obscured by smoke, ash or clouds.

Jon thanks, post 233 had me wondering about Katla. Something about a 3rd event.

So who do we have here from Western WA? GeorgeR and Doug... and me. Who else?

Central WA here.

@ Dan, sorry I got excited. There have been three events: The first and 2nd fissures are the that the tourists went to. The caldera eruption we've been watching is the 3rd.

Hmm, that could be fog, but it does seem to be being generated from just off left screen? A very constant point of origin. I'm no meteorologist though.

By Helen Leggatt (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Helen, look at the shape of the underlying billowing ash cloud from the caldera - you can just make it out.

Now look at the geometry of the higher clouds passing overhead. Flatter, no real billowy cloud surface features, right?

That's fog. Classic, just what you see when you're at sea and it spontaneously forms in the early hours before dawn.

@ parclair lol I just didn't realize there were 3 events, Thought there were two. The Katla mention got my attention though. :)Glad it's still quiet.

It's moving awfully fast for fog. (And grey colored fog?) There's also another plume behind it, center right of the pic.

By Tennyson Lee (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

It would be nice if we could get the camera to pan left to visually confirm that this is fog and not originating from the original vent area between Eyjaf and Katla.

@ Helen,
It's definitely cloud in the forefront.

By Frito Lay (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Those of us in the NW are very familiar with morning fog. Also, afternoon fog, evening fog, and next morning fog. A few days of that and my wife wants to get into one of those airplane thingys.

@Randall Nix, oops. I thought no. 3 was a fissure eruption in the caldera. It's a flank fissure?

@Passerby/Frito et al - Yes, I agree cloud in foreground is fog/cloud. I was referring to far left, in the background, moving behind the slope/lower. Thanks for input :)

By Helen Leggatt (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

@ Helen, that's cloud too. It's called stratocumulus and all the clouds you see would looks like rows of loosely rolled cotton from above. :)

By Frito Lay (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Yeah, we know what you were talking about. Note the difference in the light diffraction in the volcanic cloud mass versus the coastal warm marine air-colder condensed air interface (fog) to the left and forefront of the webcam image.

:) Thanks all. Every day's a school day :) never stop learning.

By Helen Leggatt (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

parclair when you say a caldera eruption that would imply there may be a caldera collapse. Some vents have opened up in the caldera but it isn't a caldera eruption....the whole caldera didn't open least not yet.

In fact, if you watch carefully at the land-glacier interface in the midfield, you can see condensation laden air rising to meet the low marine cloud layer overhead.

Man, it's strange watching daybreak when it's just gotten dark here. Disorienting.

The ash levels appear to be quite high. But the wind is pushing the ash down to the ground. There is at least 16m/s wind there at the moment.

You can clearly see the ash cloud from the normal clouds in the area.

@Passerby I know what you mean! I'm dying for a coffee and breakfast and I just finished watching the evening news. My head is spinning.

By Frito Lay (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

@Randall Nix. Thank you for making it more clear. I've never been known for my precision (except when it came to work). Sorry;-)

My sense of time is similarly screwed up. Feel like I'm late for the dentist, an appointment still 12 hours away. It's very interesting to watch dawn unfold on screen and have your body believe it's the real dawn.

And yet here I am about to watch the sun set....

By Helen Leggatt (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Well... a few are putzing around up there. An Airbus A330-343X will be landing in Stockhold shortly.. it's operated by SAS and came in from New York. They also have a Boeing 737-783 headed to Trondheim right now from Stavanger.

Add the www to the URL.

@ Lurking - thanks!

By the way, most browsers don't need the www any more. I keep forgetting that myself :)

By Frito Lay (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

@Helen, Hawaii?

The coulds are moving away from the camera on Valahnúk. I don't recall seeing that earlier. Also, no plume or ash here. Is the eruption happening to the right of the view?

@ Carla - no, it's Monday evening here.. New Zealand. :)

By Helen Leggatt (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

@Helen, There's a plume 1/5 from the right on Vala but it's hidden by cloud right now.

By Frito Lay (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

On the valla cam, go just to the left of the mila logo, then down. Every so often there's a glimpse of a brown (as opposed to white) cloud. It's still there, just blowing in a different direction from before. I've been watching 'cause I had the same question;)

Hey Lurking, check out the track of BOX531 over Ukraine. :)

By Frito Lay (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

What is that precipitating out of the clouds? Ash? Rain? Ashy rain? Looks nasty. Also, unless the sun has taken to moving around randomly between frames I think there's some lightning.

By Jennifer B (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

@Frito Lay

"Hey Lurking, check out the track of BOX531 over Ukraine. :)"

Er....maybe he forgot something. :D

is Katla Volcano waking up?

Lurk... Yep, the ash report and the VAAC have Stockholm out of the problem areas at greater than 35,000 on the overflight and then into a non ash area for the landing.

Passerby-Yup, I questioned it yesterday when I saw it creeping to the west. It does that this time of the year with the cold highs and the lows that form. Anything thats in between squirts out to the backend . Read a book once about just that happening. A guy in WWII was on a supply ship, only one made it off and onto a dingy. He got to within site of Scotland and then was shot back out to sea and picked up the next day by a destroyer...280 miles to the west!

By M. Randolph Kruger (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

@ Lurking - I hope it wasn't his glasses! :)

By Frito Lay (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

I will watch that, thanks @Frito and @parclair. Not sure if anyone else is looking here, but I sometimes also watch the cams at this weather station. Plus all the weather data appears below. The view on the left shows Hekla in the distance. The one on the right could be a painting. In fact, I'm going to use it as base art for a painting. It has a wonderful flat quality. Oh also, these open huge when you click on them.

This volcano (the one that you should leave your cat of the keyboard when inventing volcano names) is certainly pouring out some stuff and its not white in colour- oh dear!

A jump in seismicity seems to be recorded by Jóns Helicorders. Harmonic tremors increased a bit and keeps stable on a higher level. Some of it is wind i guess (strong winds on hekla cam) but since it suddenly jumped and keep the same high level i would guess that something is moving.

@ Tom #295 lol about the feline volcano naming technique

Are you looking at the mulakot view? It's got more smoky ashy stuff in view. If not, it's at: (but you have to hit F5 to refresh it as you go)

By Frito Lay (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Thanks Frito Lay- I'll take a look. They have just announced in London that airspace will remain closed.

It is a fairly poor article -- about half of the airspace is open, not half of the flights.

I hope that this quote is journalistic license: "It is clear that this is not sustainable. We cannot just wait until this ash cloud dissipates," EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas said." That is exactly the wrong attitude. If all the runways were underwater would we keep landing planes and hope that not too many crashed? Sometimes that which cannot be born must be born; it is part of being human.

OK, back to the volcano who was named by a cat (and we know which cat :) ) Does the current low level + high wind speed mean a good thing for Europe or a bad thing?

"Flights resume"

Yeah, they are going to pretty much have to resume them and figure out a way to make the equipment better able to tolerated it. But the article you linked makes the important point of doing some definitive studies to determine what is or is not a "safe" amount of ash and what the consequences of long term operation in low levels of ash concentration are.

We might have some data from ground operations of aircraft in places like Iraq where the "sand" is a fine as flour and the air force operates in it year-round.

Adios everyone. Should be an interesting day and, I hope, a safe one for all flyers.

Last one on this topic but that article really bugged me.

I knew (slightly) a professional captian who had more experience and talent than I will ever dream of having. He had a beautiful 50 foot steel boat that was used for charter fishing off of the Oregon coast. One winter ~1980 he and some buddies (fortunately not customers) decided to go out halibut fishing.

It got late and stormy, they came up to the bar at dark on a pretty good ebb tide. They called the Coast Guard for a bar report. The Coast Guard said not to cross. It was late, they were tired, they did not want to stay out all night, probably low on fuel and they really wanted to go home. Captain was a hot shot and knew more than those coasties could know about his hometown (river) bar. (Probably knew more about the other bar as well.) He decided to cross.

If I recall correctly, one person survived. Not the captain. The boat was never recovered. (Boat name the "Bikini" out of Winchester Bay if you think I'm blowing smoke.)

One of the events that produced in me a profound respect for the forces of nature and the advice of people whose job it is to give advice of a technical nature.

"Yeah, they are going to pretty much have to resume them and figure out a way to make the equipment better able to tolerated (sic) it"

It will be an interesting experiment. They may only lose 1 out of 100 aircraft. With any luck the eruption will go on for months and they'll get some really useful data, you know, 737s crash lots, A380s not so much and so on and thereby figure out how to make the equipment better able to tolerate the ash. I mean, there are billions of people, right? What's a few thousand dead? Onwards and upwards!

One of my concerns is that flights will be restarted too early under conditions that lead not to crashes but to extreme wear on the engines. When these planes start conking out way ahead of schedule (maybe in six months time, in two years, who knows), I'm sure the airlines will approach governments with hat in hand expecting another bailout. "After all, 'no one knew' that the airspace should have been closed longer" etc. etc. Either way the costs will be passed on, and it might very well be more expensive for everyone concerned than if airspace was closed for an extra week, or what have you.

Ehm is Hekla cam directed towards Eyaf? I see a plume rising on the horizon.

@GeorgeR - re journalist licence comment - if you want the vid to the right of the article the guy, Kallas, says exactly what the article reads.. straight from the horses mouth, as it were. Although he goes on to say "safety is paramount" yada yada

By Helen Leggatt (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

GeorgeR I completely agree with you. I can't believe that KLM and others are prepared to put many people's lives at risk. The authorities have no choice but to keep the airspaces closed until it is all clear- you could imagine the litigation that would follow if a catastrophy were to occur. We could argue all day about the impact of ash upon machinery but I do think there is some fairly clear evidence to suggest that it is overall not worth the risk. I feel sorry for the stranded passengers, loss in export trade etc but at the end of day isn't human life more precious! The airlines will catchup their lost revenue through increased prices or maybe through an IMF loan.

Been keeping an eye on Múlakot cam since sunrise on and off (my 1 year old likes to get up with the sun). Looks like the eruption is running at about 10% peak or less. I hope this continues, although the Bjork song "it's oh so quiet" springs to mind. Quick question on the high level dust over Europe - anyone with experience of other similar eruptions does the dust tend to disperse at its current level (3-5km I believe) or will it start to descend on a large scale? I have been monitoring the UK ground level particulates, which have been creeping up slowly but are still at a low/moderate rating (PM10 30-65 µgm-3Grav Equiv). Just wondering how high we could expect that to get (if she continues to play nice).

On this cam: could someone explain as to where this is pointed? Is it pointed towards hekla or Eyaf?

Something is definitely growing there!

@ Woody - very well illustrated. Hope you don't mind me using your quote elsewhere - inspired.

By Helen Leggatt (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Woody, let me show it from a different perspective.

Say you have a fleet of dump trucks that haul gravel. Now you get a customer who wants you to haul gravel to a location that is extremely harsh on your equipment but wants to pay the standard rate.

Using the logic of some posts I have seen today, the hauler would jump at the chance, not caring if he lost drivers, cargo, or equipment. I suggest that is not really how a business operates.

Now suppose the tires start wearing out sooner or maybe its the breaks. Or maybe constant overheating which reduces engine life. Or maybe the route is so bad he loses a truck, a driver, and a load. The operator is not going to continue under those circumstances without either increasing his charge for the trip greatly in order to compensate for the loss or the operator will stop traveling the route.

At some point drivers (analogous to pilots) will stop driving the route. And a pilot takes a lot of time and money to train. They don't grow on trees. Neither does the money to replace planes and engines.

The notion that somehow an operator is just in a hurry to get into the air and doesn't care about their operational costs goes against my own experience in running a business. It is the kind of thinking one hears from people who have never run a business of their own and believe all businesses are run and staffed by evil greedy people who just want to crash planes for money or something.

They are going to have to look at the operational impact of flying in that environment and they are doing that now with empty planes. So far they have apparently seen no damage. They will also probably rotate the equipment a little differently so that it does not spend all of its flying time in the area of the problem. Regional operators will have a more difficult problem in that regard because they may not fly routes outside of the problem area.

If the costs associated with flying in that environment get too great, they will have to either increase the fare or abandon the route. Risking the loss of a plane and flight crew for the profit of that flight is something that not even a Ferengi would do.

@Matt P.

Dispersion is usually pretty quick due to particulate size (actually weight of avg. particulate from avg. eruption) and was "washed" out due to hydrometeor accumulation to add weight for gravitational fall out. However, this event (as noted by folks on this site) has had smaller than "normal" ash particles due to mixing of ice/water at the the weight has not lead to significant fallout as of yet as well as a lack of significant weather (ie deep convection) across much of Europe. Additionally, winds have been very weak across N Europe and have lead to a significant shearing with little movement to the plume as a whole (in fact starting to reach Newfoundland based on latest London VAAC Advisory). Perfect example of fall out differences due to all these factors is a comparison to the early Feb. Soufriere Hills eruption that was much larger (in height and likely close in volume, though not duration)...which fell out/dispersed in less than 2 days across the Atlantic.

It's clearly after sunrise there now, but I don't see any of that big plumes of ash from the volcano right now in the Holsvelli cam. Anyways, as I live in Alberta and it's just past 1:00 am here, I gotta catch some sleep!

@Tom (#295). As a linguist (MA), I find it hilarious that someone whose language is to the majority composed of Nordic pokes fun at the one that's closest to our common ancestral language. Do think the cat jumped on your keyboard when you write words suchs as knife/knives, shelf/shelves (the f to v in plural) or the name of cities such as York (Jorvik), Norwich, Grimsby, Nottingham. Heck, even window (vindauga), Lord (hlafwaerd)/Lady, Earth (Eorðan), father, mother, daughter, loaf (hlaf), name etc etc etc etc etc etc.

(Tongue in cheek) It may be that your cat is a better linguist than you!

Morning all,
has the Valahunk cam been moved as the actions not showing this morning?

Henrik #316...shhhh now is not a good time to bring up Viking conquests...

And is it just me and too much coffee...but those Helicorders are all over the place, looks a bit nuts to me.

If it was only a matter of increased wear, what you say makes sense, George. But the effects of volcanic ash on modern jet airliners include sudden catastrophic failure resulting in almost certain death for all on board. As far as the business decision goes, well, if it is a choice of certain bankruptcy if you don't fly versus possible accident if you do, it might be tempting to take a gamble, mightn't it?
GeorgeR's cautionary tale above has relevance here, I think.
By all means conduct tests, just don't put hundreds of lives at risk to do so. Where are all the unmanned drones when you need them?

Henrik #316... or Star Wars ;)

The cams are awfully quiet. Something must be brewing again.

By Frito Lay (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Ok, so if you look at this:

Click to enlarge it. What is going on in the far right of that? Why is there an apparent cloud of ash there when the train of ash "puffs" from the the vent we have been watching the past couple of days is going in a direction more away from the camera? How does that ash plume show up so close at that location?

I've been looking at those images showing what some believed was a glow at night over the volcano.

From what I am able to deduce I'd say with nearly 100 per cent confidence that this was magmatic glow indeed.

The fact that explosive activity has undergone a notable reduction and that we see this glow at night might indicate that the vent has become very much "dry" and effusive activity is taking place.

One might doubt there can be effusive activity in an andesitic eruption, but there are a large number of well-documented andesitic and even dacitic and rhyolitic lava flows (and domes, which are also products of effusive activity to be precise). Very often these eruptions start with an explosive phase and then continue less explosively with lava emission. Chaitén in Chile is a fine example, Mount St. Helens another.

This does not rule out that there will be renewed explosive activity, we've seen this at Montserrat and Nevado de Huila; new pulses of gas-rich magma can occur, and the high levels of tremor seen yesterday and this night are indicative of a restless and unstable system.

@Scott, #318. I believe there is alot of wind in these readings. Average windspeed acc to meters at Heklubyggd site is around 10m/s and i believe there can be some gusts also.

But surely not all of it is wind. I believe there is an increase in tremors.

@George (#321) that's simply a puff of ash that had been shot out previously from the vent and is being driven by the wind to the right, while still having a bit of buoyancy so that it continues to rise. But you see that it has already very "fuzzy" margins, compared to the younger puffs closer to the vent. That's one thing that we see nearly every day at Etna, nothing indicative of some new vent or whatever. But it can be extremely misleading to the untrained eye.

I thought that, too, Boris. But unlike the other "puffs" that one does not move.

The problem with a financial approach to risk (the markets will take care of it) is that humans are not very good at acting in their own best interests, let alone the collective best interest. We all logically know that we should buy low and sell high, plan for the long term rather than short term gain, and invest our money rather than spend it on toys. But we do the opposite, while convincing ourselves that there are very logical reasons for doing so. The logic of the market looks beautiful when you only look at the winners, but just as most species go extinct most investers lose money and most companies go bankrupt.

When logic and emotion dovetail neatly it is usually time to re-examine. Emotionally we all very much want the airspace to open as soon as possible. It becomes imperitive then for those in power to examine their logic extremely carefully. It is easy to say and very hard to do so we have to have compassion for those making the decision.

There is still a fair bit of stuff coming from the volcano, but it doesn't seem to be as high. Good news? Probably too soon to say. All the seismic activity makes me nervous (at a primitive level...)

I'm going to lead with my amateur chin here:

One of the reason this eruption does not behave like the "regular" Icelandic volcanic eruptions is that Eyjafjall is not your regular volcano. In an earlier topic, I hypothesised that we are seeing an eruption of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, eg that the Eurasian and North American plates are moving apart and that new material is filling the fissure between them. That this has happened in the past is evident from the deep and wide "trough" running North-South through Eyjafjall's main crater. The Vodafone cam, once the glaciation had been removed, showed that there were openings on the side of the North side of the mountain as well and the the fissured area "topside" is reported as being 2km in length.

If this is what is happening now, it could possibly explain why there was so much earthquake activity before the eruption - the seam between the plates was splitting, why there is evidence of "much going on below but little above" - the rift is in the process of being filled. This could also explain the length of earlier eruptions and why there is a possibility that this eruption could go on for a long time.

Now, a free hit for everyone!

The wind is blowing strongly from the north today, I believe this flattens out the plume considerably. I believe this makes it difficult to judge the activity by looking at the plume height.

A lot of airborne dust from the highlands is visible in the mulakot images.

Hi Henrik. All respect to Nordic language but could someone please give an English Phoetic spelling of this active volcano and I promise not to let the cat out of the bag. This would assist many in correct pronunciation.

@Henrik. As an amateur with a big interest in this i agree with you. That would also explain all the seismic activity throughout the rift up north on iceland.

As "hunter/gatherer" humans are inclined to spot patterns and it definitely seems to be an EQ pattern following the ridge.

@ Boris - I watched the Hvolsvelli cam all night and I can honestly say there appeared to be much more activity than just a lava/magma glow. There were definite periods of explosive activity.

By Helen Leggatt (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

"humans are not very good at acting in their own best interests, let alone the collective best interest."

I disagree. I believe humans are exceptionally good at acting in their own best interest. It reminds me of an essay done by a Nobel Prize winning economist and Professor of economics concerning potatoes.

Generally, if left along, millions of wrong decisions allows that one right decision to emerge and become dominant. Again, generally, when things are centrally managed, a mistake can (and eventually does) result in systemic catastrophe. The collapse of the US housing market, for example, due to government meddling by placing ridiculous requirements on lenders to issue so much sub-prime debt through the Community Reinvestment Act is an recent example. Sometimes you can help people to death.

In Europe, I would favor a solution to the problem that allows each country to develop its own policy just as I would favor a solution that allows each state to develop theirs as opposed to a central solution imposed equally on everyone. Every region doesn't have the same problems or same set of resources. And it allows (in the case of the US) 50 different approaches to a problem at the start. The approaches that don't work can be abandoned and those that do can be adopted. A bad decision limits the damage to the scope of that jurisdiction. A bad central decision damages the entire system. Also, since the risk is so high with central decision making, any changes must be studied to death resulting in delays in getting adjustments implemented. Smaller organizations operating in a more limited scope can make adjustments quicker to deal with problems that might be local or could be systemic but they are more agile and easier to adapt.

I would always rather see decisions taken closer to the problem. Yes, there are going to be some bad decisions made but people are pretty good about learning from the mistakes from others in most cases.

The notion that people are not very good when it comes to self interest is counter to all of history. You generally find things happening counter to the interest of the population when some central authority gets involved, arrives at some hare-brained conclusion, and enforces it uniformly and then refuses to back off of it even in the face of obvious failure.

Boris, what I am not understanding are two things:

1. That rightmost plume doesn't move
2. Why would the ash dissipate and then suddenly become denser again?

@Woody you say airbus does not crash and 737 does? There have been so many incidents with new airbuses later, I have a new motto, "If it's not Boeing, I'm not Going!" lol

By Scarlet Pumpernickel (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

@George (#325) - if you look at the 3rd image on this site and reload it like every 2-3 minutes you'll see that the entire plume, each puff, is slowly moving to the right. The one you noted earlier has long since moved out of the picture. But it appears that always in the same place the puffs get browner and rise a bit higher - this is an effect of topography, which in turn influences the behavior of the wind. Let's not forget that this volcano is a mountain and mountains create terrible complications in wind patterns - again, experience from Etna.

@Henrik (#327), every single eruption in Iceland is an eruption of the Mid-Atlantic ridge, because the whole country sits on the ridge, and it's due to the opening of the ridge that we have volcanoes there. The orientation of the fissure systems is along the trend of the ridge throughout Iceland except the one or the other odd volcano that is a bit off the active rift (that is, the Mid-Atlantic ridge), and may get some support from the supposed hot-spot lying below Iceland, by coincidence right under the ridge. The thing that's unusual is that here we have a central volcano which erupts rarely, and these central volcanoes seem to have long-lived magma reservoirs that recharge at differing rates, and this gives the magma time to differentiate. I am convinced this eruption has been triggered by the injection of "primitive" basaltic magma, the one that we've seen during the first episode of the eruption, because that's something known to happen quite often.
That there might be a major rifting event under way is a possibility, with all the seismic activity we've seen elsewhere (like the Reykjanes Rigde just a bit before this eruption). It looks a bit like the great rifting event going on in the Afar region in northeast Africa. If that's really the case, this story here might be far from over. And as you suggest, Henrik, these major rifting events seem to be characterized by a very high intrusion-extrusion ratio - which means nothing else than most magma is injected into the fissures created by the rifting, filling them, whereas only relatively small quantities of magma reach the surface.
But all this is still in the making and we'll have to wait until the scientists working on this event have elaborated and interpreted some of the data, which takes time especially when things are continuing to happen.

I agree with much of the above, George, I am no socialist. In this instance the central authority is, I believe, correct. The "bad decisions" you mention will kill people who will not have understood the risk they took. But enough of the banter. :-)

@George (#333) - the Hvolsvelli web cam is back to life, there you can see that the whole plume is moving.

As far as the discussion about air traffic and the possibility of resuming it in spite of a continued risk, my saying is "better safe than sorry" - that means, if there is even the slightest risk it should be avoided. But in the capitalist world, there are other values being given priority.

Indeed, I see more pushes by KLM to get flights going again, this morning.

Also, I've been hearing choppers -- it sounds like they've already restarted flights to the North Sea rigs and platforms.

By Luna_the_cat (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

As previous poster wrote. There still may be explosive eruptions...Just saw on Mulakot cam...It went Boom! :)

Im seeing an uptick in what looks like mainly white steam activity... Ice collapsing into pooled lava rather than explosive eruptions?

Flights are now being canceled out of St. John's, Newfoundland due to the expected arrival of ash.

By Frito Lay (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

"if there is even the slightest risk it should be avoided."

Using that logic, automobiles would be banned. As would skis, skateboards, and crosswalks.

Looks like a helicopter just past the Hvolsvelli webcam on the way to the mountain.

By Mattias Larsson (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Did a new vent open elsewhere or is it still the wind's effect? What seems a thick (but not too high) ash plume is in a different place than usual.

100 people a day die in the US in automobile accidents. If 100 a day died in plane accidents, they would be banned.

Beware of plunging buses!

@Mr Moho, I agree, it sure looks like two vents are active.

By Frito Lay (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

I am wondering the same thing, Mr. Moho.

It looks to me like something is going on in a different location and it looks rather larger than the current activity at the vent we have been watching the past few days. That vent seems to be producing much too little activity for the amount of tremor that is going on.

@George #344 ... you are pointing to an obvious dilemma in evaluating what should be avoided and what not. I think in air traffic, there are two differences to the examples you named. (1) One single airplane can carry hundreds of people who would risk to lose their lives all at once if a fatal crash happens. That in turn would have legal consequences that are currently difficult to imagine. (2) In the cases you named, individuals are in charge of their parcourses, that means it's you who goes skiing or skateboarding, whereas as a passenger on an airplane you lay your fate into the hands of an airline and its crew of pilots and everybody else involved, and on the means that we have to monitor volcanic ash plumes. Even though it's your decision to get onto that airplane and make your fate depend on other people and numerous external factors ... it's different.

The question after all is what can be afforded - economic losses due to the total interruption of air traffic, or the cost of an accident involving hundreds of victims due to permitting flights in spite of a possible risk ...? These things are about as complicated as volcanic systems and I am glad I am not a decision maker in that field.

But I agree that there are many cases when we're risking to be overcautious, and once more Etna provides a nice example. Here, once a more serious eruption starts, much of the volcano is declared off-limits, with potentially catastrophic consequences for tourism business in Sicily (which economically is in perpetual crisis since decades). The way the first episode of the Eyjafjallajökull eruption (the nice, little basaltic one) was handled by Icelandic authorities and tourism operators was exemplary but I fear nothing similar will happen here at Etna once the volcano erupts next. Yet we know, that even when the situation in Iceland was handled in a masterful way during the first basaltic episode, there were two fatalities.

The vodafone images google is archiving show it better. Looks to me like a new vent that is to the left of and "deeper" in the field of view than the vent we have been watching the past couple of days.

@Bernard Duyck Wow awesome pics! Thank you for sharing.

By Frito Lay (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

A new vent would produce a lot of steam until it melts the ice around the vent.

Off topic, but it seems that an increase of the activity of Gaua in Vanuatu has lead authorities to ponder the evacuation of the population:

@George, Frito Lay and Mr Moho: What I see in the mukalot images is that weather clouds are forming on the left (upwind) slope of the volcano, which may give the impression of a new vent. Such clouds typically form on upwind mountain slopes as the day goes on during humid conditions, and it's something we see often on Etna.

At the same time the volcanic tremor is quite intense, so it wouldn't be all that surprising to see some more vigorous activity soon, and maybe new vents ...

Looking at Hvolsvelli - right hand side - is that the plume being seen on other cams?

By Helen Leggatt (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink - working once more.

no trace of a new vent but a cloud bank forming. You can also see how the main ash plume is bent to the right, and near the right margin of the view it suddenly rises - that's the wind shadow zone behind the mountain.

But yes, the frame indicated by shelly (#354) has a little plume that looks like one of those gas-ash puffs. Either that's a single burst or it's a weather effect. Difficult to say.

Yes, it is really odd. The plumes from the vent are carried by the wind to the right in the camera image. This new, whatever it is, isn't being moved by the wind. It is just sitting there, growing.

Yes Helen. That should be the the same plume that is carried away by the wind.

By Mattias Larsson (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Its looking quiet now. TOO quiet!

The cam at Valahnúk isn't showing the plume that the Hvolsvelli cam is showing.. Due to wind being stronger maybe?? or has the emphasis moved??

being TOO quiet is not a good indication of a volcano which just started erupting...

@Boris #355 Yes, I saw that particular little puff of cloud (stratus fractus) being formed on the far left of the screen far ahead of the mountain and then it head per the prevailing wind. It was kind of neat actually, how it floated right over to the main plume :)

Now, about that big disorganized cloud on the right - is that from uplift in the big gully on the backside?

By Frito Lay (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

@Boris (#335). The reason I put up this scenario and worded it as I have is that I myself (and from what has been posted I suspect others do too) tend to think of volcanoes as exemplified by St Helens, hence the expressed expectation of something "big" happening soon which, incidentally, leads to the disbelief when the Icelandic vulcanologists express their interpretations. This is why I deliberately chose to describe Eyjafjall not as a volcano (ie St Helens), but as the Mid-Atlantic Ridge in the hope of invoking a different model/construct on which to apply the available data. ;)

@Boris #355 correction: CUMULUS fractus. Gosh, it's getting late!

@George #358 Clouds that form around and near mountains can look and behave very differently than, say, on the prairies. Ones especially around mountains can build quite high and stay stationary, even in high winds.

By Frito Lay (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Hi Dr. Boris. I seem to remember that there were some serious sized earthquakes around Gaua in the very recent past (Mag 7).

Is the cart pushing the horse? i.e. Earthquake causing volcanic activity or is it possible volcanic activity's causing the earthquakes. There was no indication of any imminent activity at Gaua at the time of the tremors.

By Les Francis (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Let's try to explain cloud phenomena at active volcanoes, in the case of Etna which is also quite a big mountain. We get extremely complicated weather patterns in such environments, which can create phenomena that can be easily interpreted as due to some volcanic action while in reality they aren't.

Now look at this photo:
Here wind direction is from right to left. The volcanic gas plume is that white puff (that's being just emitted from one of the summit craters) and cloud right over the summit. But if you look carefully you can see a somewhat thinner and light gray cloud immediately to the right of that pronounced white puff, which seems to terminate at right in another little puff. That's a weather cloud which forms due from a whole chain of little gray clouds you can see further right. This is a layer of moist air which, when encountering the slopes of the volcano, is forced to rise, which makes it cool and condensate, and the closer it comes to the volcano, the more it condensates. And thus it becomes a thicker and thicker cloud.

Let's now look at this:
This is again Etna, and the wind is again from right to left. Very strong wind, which blows the volcanic gas plume downslope for some distance, before it reaches the wind shadow created by the mountain. There it rises abruptly, and many people who see this for the first time have the impression that something significant happens there at left, below the steeply rising plume. In reality that's the same plume that has been emitted from the summit, traveled a bit downslope, and then suddenly rises in the wind shadow.

This should explain a number of cloud features we see in the images of the Eyjafjallajökull web cams, and most certainly the activity is currently concentrated at the vents within the summit caldera which have been active during the past few days.

And we saw lenticularis clouds this morning that looked almost exactly the same as this:

Another link that explains a lot in a nutshell is:

Happy reading :)

By Frito Lay (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

Thanks Boris and Mattias!

By Frito Lay (not verified) on 18 Apr 2010 #permalink

@Boris, many thanks for taking the time to educate us on these things. Much appreciated.

By Helen Leggatt (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

The Helicorders are picking up some increasingly large tremors. Is it the wind picking up or is it due to increase of magmatic flow?

Reports indicate that magma has started flowing, which might signal less ash, but the extent to which this may be happening is now being investigated...

@Daniel, It is a mixture of both. There is a wind now up to 8 to 12m/s and that shows up on my seismometer. At current level there is more wind the harmonic tremor showing up on my seismometer. But the harmonic tremors from Eyjajallajökull continues to increase at this moment and have now reached a new levels then before.

Yes- thanks Boris. You're a gem mate. Cheers Aussie Tom.

@Passerby #122. It struck me that raw unfiltered tremor data - or maybe geophone data- from non-directional seismometers or microphone might be useful for triangulation. If data was sampled at say 1000 samples per second, sufficent to define up to 100Hz waveforms then it should be possible to scan that data for distinctive patterns. Obviously a pure sine wave would be useless, but I doubt tremor data looks like that, I'd expect some distinctive combinations of peak, lull, another peak etc to occur sometimes. Doesn't matter why - they are merely fiducial markers in the data stream. Once each marker sequence has been identified on three seismometers around a volcano it should be matter of using the time delays to triangulate the source of the odd spike pattern. One sequence identified per minte would give locatlsation data similar to the EQswarm we saw a month ago.
Surely the geophysicts will have tried this?

By Peter Cobbold (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

The wind should start to slow down during the day so we might get better readings on hekla seismometer as later today. The weather looks pretty god for volcano watching today. There might be some clouds coming in this afternoon/evning, but I beleve there will not be so much low clouds so the chances of a good volcano view should still be fairly good.

By Mattias Larsson (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

It seems to be nearly official now that the eruption has entered into a fully magmatic, predominantly effusive phase ( That would explain the persistent glow seen during the night and the diminished ash production, and the high levels of tremor at the same time. It is likely that lava effusion is accompanied by vigorous Strombolian activity, as can be read from the translation of the IMO report linked above.

Haha translation of that did not come out alright i think..:)

In swedish it said something like "Heavy explosions on the plains and the size of a jeep who aledgedly flew over in a helicopter. He also has food.."

Boris, will this possible change in activity increse or reduce snow and ice melting compared to before? Would it include lava pouring out and melting the snow/ice? Possible lava pouring out was mentioned in the link you posted above.

By Mattias Larsson (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

@Boris Behncke, That might be short lived. The renaming basaltic magma inside Eyjafjallajökull might be going out now. I am expecting the eruption going to ash only soon. But when depends on the amount of basaltic magma that is left.

According to news, NATO F-16 did flow through ash cloud and the engine is damaged in them.

Based on numbers from the Road Works' weather stations in the vicinity and a hell of a lot of pseudo-educated guesswork, the wind on Eyjafjallajökull is circabout N-NNE 15-20 m/s.

#245: I knew there was a reason I like APOD.

A helicopter pilot has reported flying splashes of lava the size of a four-by.

By Reynir Heiðbe… (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

Wow... The Google Translation of Boris'link in French is just above and beyond..almost unintelligible....

But that means, the lava erupted now is probably back to basaltic or basaltic andesite.... back to Fimmvörduhals type.

By Volcanophile (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

I think you can see the ash from the volcano to.

By Mattias Larsson (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

Daniel, there seems to be some people here from Sweden now. At least you, me and Henrik. Anyone else? :)

By Mattias Larsson (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

@Mr Moho lol should I mark date that on the calendar, next to my computer modelling computer of the ash plume which is really designed for nuclear fallout clouds but doesn't work properly? :P

By Scarlet Pumpernickel (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

Hi all eruptionbloggers!
Here is a nice footage from ITN news, from yesterday. You see the bombs being thrown out of the crater, probabely those we could track in red on the night-time pictures. They seem to be thrown at least a few hundred meters in the air!
The journalists sure hit the right moment to fly around!


That was a cool video Pascal. Great to have a close view on the activity. I think that might have been the hekicopter I saw earlier on the webcam.

By Mattias Larsson (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

I'm thoroughly enjoying this site, all the comments, and most of all, the broad education I'm getting...

1) BBC just reported an AP source which cited NATO F-16 jets flying "through" the ash clouds and suffering engine damage today but without any reference to the altitude(s), the duration, or location(s) of the flights;

2) A senior Lufthansa exec was standing nearby during the BBC report, just next to Heathrow runways, and he could not muster an argument for the pressure the airline industry is putting on NATS/etc to lift the restrictions, given this new information -- he just looked befuddled (understandably) and could not come up with anything other than "Well, we always put safety as our priority."


Quick question:
If Katla starts-up again, as many seem to be suggesting could happen, will it likely produce a similar mix of these same elements in its plume (steam+ash) with the potential for damaging impacts on aircraft?
Is the composition of Katla's geology exactly the same/somewhat the same/somehwat different/entirely different?

By Matthew UK/Afg… (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

B. Duyck #247:

The photo is clearly a Photoshop job.

@Matthew UK If Katla erupts, europe's gone for 2 years! The fog will spread like 1783 (different volcano then though)

By Scarlet Pumpernickel (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

@397 : You mean #245? Why!?

(11.54 GMT) Have a look at the Thórólfsfelli webcam at the holes in the glacier visible at the top right of the picture! Thin wisps of smoke (not steam?) seem to be coming out of the two bottom left ones. You'll need to enlarge the image (Ctrl +).

Pascal....Thank you for the link. Just some incredible images. My heart goes out to all the people of Iceland coping with this volcano, but the images from this eruption are just "awesome".

By AlwaysOptimistic (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

Scarlet. If Katla erupts can it be said that will be a inpact for 2 years? Katla would probably have a large explosive eruption, but I´m not sure how long time it will go on. What does the historical record tells us about the typical length of Katla eruptions?

By Mattias Larsson (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

@Anna: I think you are referring to #349? How do you get to your conclusion? There are more photos around, showing this.

@Mattias Katla has been producing a giant dome for a long time, I guess the length depends on the size and/or also if a fissure eruption also occurs later on? If Katla releases more ash it will cover the farm land in europe and cause problems, also sulfur dioxide winter could occur in europe, europe already can have it's cold times depending on the NAO position, if you add a giant volcanic eruption to the mix, get ready for a short term ice age for europe.…

By Scarlet Pumpernickel (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

@Mathew UK- I understand that the geology of Katla is almost identical to Eyjafjallajökull.

#400: sorry Tubbe.

I meant to say #349 (not #247!)

I too would like to know the tell-tales. All I see is that the exposure was made over several minutes according to the star trails.

By Reynir Heiðbe… (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

Looks like Katla has been preparing for a while. 1918 was the last eruption I think. The 1820s went on for a while, and I think 1755 was a massive one with very large glacial flooding. So I think the chance of a long eruption if Katla erupts is very likely.

"Eyjafjallajokull has blown three times in the past thousand years," Dr McGarvie told The Times, "in 920AD, in 1612 and between 1821 and 1823. Each time it set off Katla." The likelihood of Katla blowing could become clear "in a few weeks or a few months", he said.

By Scarlet Pumpernickel (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

@Anna #397:
If you like such pictures, take a look at that one:
the only thing I wonder is the place where the photographer was (congratulations to him btw, incredible shot).
Being an amateur photographer, I think it would be harder to photoshop such a picture than to take it for real... (if you except the fact of taking yourself to the right place at the right time, and get back from there as well :) ).

@Pascal: I'd guess it was shot with a modest tele from the sands west of the glacier.

By Reynir Heiðbe… (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

Sorry to bring up the past but the eruptopn of Laki in Iceland in 1783 was probaly the worst in terms of its effects on the global community. It lasted for 8 months culminating in a massive explosion in 1784. Let's hope we don't end up with a 'Katla Haze' across Europe.

@Jón (#383) - you remarked in an earlier thread that andesitic = explosive. I am sorry to say but that's wrong. Andesitic magma can erupt entirely non-explosive, if there is not much water vapor and/or carbon dioxide left in the magma. Because that's what makes an eruption explosive (besides magma interaction with external water such as a glacier, a lake, or the ocean), it's not that much the magma composition, i.e. whether it's basalt, andesite, dacite, or rhyolite. There are countless andesitic lava flows on this planet, including Mount St Helens (they erupted sometime between the 15th and 18th centuries); there are also many andesitic lava domes (that is, products of effusive activity because that's what a a lava dome is). Even dacite or rhyolite can erupt as lava flows or domes, not explosively - Mount St Helens's last eruption (2004-2008) is a fine example of a virtually non-explosive dacite eruption.

But when there's a lot of tremor, I would also expect quite a bit of gas being involved, so you are probably right in this case and the eruption could very well pick up in intensity. But it should be noted that intense Strombolian activity - which is much less of a concern than the phreatomagmatic, Surtseyan-style that we've seen so far - is capable of creating extremely strong tremor, sometimes even stronger than a powerful lava fountain. Again, Etna docet.

@Scarlet (#405) - the dome at Katla (whose existence is speculative, not confirmed) formed during an episode of heightened seismic activity and deformation in 1999, so it was limited in time and probably very small.

As far as is known Katla is not showing any whatsoever signs of unrest. So I guess discussion about what Katla *could* do are, for the moment, entirely in the realm of phantasy. We should also be aware that the most recent eruptions of Katla, in 1860 and 1918, were certainly very violent, but far from creating any global climatic effects. On the other hand, one thing is sure, once Katla erupts, it will be a BIG mess in air traffic in Europe and in the north Atlantic.

Valahnúk is clear at the moment

#401 @Henrik.

You are right, well spotted. If you watch long enough you can see the shadows they throw over the snow as they rise upwards..

In effect, the Eyjafjallajökull eruption may be a blessing in disguise as Europe gets a chance to learn what to do and not to do when Katla eventually erupts, be it in a month's or twenty years' time.

Pascal....Thank you for the link. Just some incredible images. My heart goes out to all the people of Iceland coping with this volcano, but the images from this eruption are just "awesome".

By AlwaysOptimistic (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

Two brief points.

1. For a non-scientist, this blog and your comments are fascinating and most useful, thank you all very much for educating me (and, I'm sure, others)!

2. VAAC is reporting that the eruption has now stopped. Can I assume that this is a short-hand way of describing the change in the form of the eruption that you have been outlining since approx yesterday evening, and more so this morning? My understanding is that the eruption may have moved into a new phase, characterised with more magma flow and a smaller ash plume? The milu webcams are still showing a (small) plume, but these appear a bit whiter - steam rather than ash? (That said, looking at the vala webcam (75% of the way over to the right of the picture), I may be misjudging the colour because of contrast.)

Apologies for my over-simplistic questions.

Daniel, there seems to be some people here from Sweden now. At least you, me and Henrik. Anyone else? :)

Probably many reading, but fewer with anything to add. :-P

Interesting that it was possible to fly NY-Sthlm though (see #282), would that be a large detour to the north, or is that about normal? I don't have a globe handy..

Uh-here is Sheveluch and its been Orange status for a month or three. I dont see anything too terribly sexy about the ash being kicked out. It did the same thing a week ago. Its a nasty little volcano and it erupted last year with a huge pyroclastic flow and then was quiet. Quiet being what you are seeing here. When it goes, and look at the pictures list you have no problem discerning what is bad and what this is right now. Every volcano out there is getting more scrutiny as a result of the TV coverage.

Klyuchevskoy is far more nutty than this and an eruption like E at the altitude it would start at would seriously impinge on your future plans.

Here are the thermals off of all of them in the KVERT realm...Greetings to Olga G. and Yuri the Yeti who watch this page.

Sarychev is to the lower left just NE of that island you can see.

By M. Randolph Kruger (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

404 Chris
408 Reynir
410 Pascal

The 349 photo was uploaded yesterday (April 18). The photographer states it's brand new.

It shows a Fimmvörðuháls-style lava fountain (a suspiciously large one) quite some ways from the main vent.

There have been no lava flows in Eyjafjallajökull to my knowledge. For the past hours glowing hot rocks/huge splatters have been coming up and this material is piling up by the rim of the crater. But there is no liquid lava coming up.

Pascal: "Being an amateur photographer, I think it would be harder to photoshop such a picture than to take it for real..."

If you've got photos of the Fimmvörðuháls eruption and if you've got photos of recent ash plumes with lightnings you can just take the various elements from here and there, resize them and create a new and entirely fictional picture.

#410 Pascal, here ist the link to the discussion forum where this pic was posted by the photographer. He states that the distance was about 4-7km.

@Boris Behncke, Icelandic magma tends to be gas rich, both in Co2 and other stuff (water too). I do not think that there are many exceptions to that rule. But the harmonic tremors continue to gain strength, and that is not a good news. Regardless of what is coming from Eyjafjallajökull.

Great shots. They are long exposures so they do not really replicate what you might see in an instant. Each flash of lightning acts like a flashbulb lighting up a different part of the ash cloud and with long exposure time areas of incandescent ejecta at the base will start to coalesce and look like a lava fountain.

I would love to be able to photograph this eruption.

Breaking news on the BBC news website...

"UK emergency planning committee Cobra to meet again to discuss response to Volcanic cloud"

Does anyone else think they are planning a leaflet campaign against it?

By paul wakefield (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

#422 Anna, the incandescent explosion in that image seems to be in the same (or close to) location as the incandescent explosion in the first photograph of this article. As an amateur photographer (astrophotography, lightning, etc...) I don't see a reason why this couldn't be a real image, or possible a combination of images taken in sequence. It is very spectacular, but without evidence it is rude to claim it a fake.

Thank you Scarlet! I will do some investigation when I have the time. So meiby we will possible have a long Katla eruption then.

By Mattias Larsson (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

Continued from #422.

You can see lightnings in this video, taken by a RÃV cameraman in the twilight yesterday. Note the relative size of the lightning forks.

The #349 photo is taken from the ground and much further away, you can see a lot of mountain. The lightnings in the plume really look colossal by comparison.

Continued from #422.

You can see lightnings in this video, taken by a RÃV cameraman in the twilight yesterday. Note the relative size of the lightning forks.

The #349 photo is taken from the ground and much further away, you can see a lot of mountain. The lightnings in the plume really look colossal by comparison.

@Anna: I think a few things about this image: The fire column was probably only visible, because the clouds was almost pushed to the south, so its not directly above the eruption site. This photo has a pretty long exposure time (I would guess of at least 2 minutes), so you collect a of flashes, as well as a good idea of the eruption. Estimated on the distance the author has probably used a 300 or even 400mm telephoto lens, so you get some foreground as well as a close look of the cloud. But there is a simple way of findeing out: Go to Flickr and ask orvaratli, he usually answers technical questions.
I don't see any reason not to believe that this is a real photo.

Koen (427) & Chris:

"As an amateur photographer (astrophotography, lightning, etc...) I don't see a reason why this couldn't be a real image, or possible a combination of images taken in sequence. It is very spectacular, but without evidence it is rude to claim it a fake."

You are clearly talking about a different photograph, possibly the one Pascal linked to.

I'm talking about a photograph on Flickr. Poster #349 provided a link to it. I have referred to this number in all my posts -- 349.

349 is a long exposure photo. You can tell from the star-tracks above. This shows lots of lightning that happened not all at once. Great photo. Not faked.

By eddie McCloy (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

Eyjafjallajökull-and it's environs look a lot like the high
desert of Eastern Oregon we sit on that great slab of Columbia River Basalt, and the mother vents are just 50 or so miles from where I write today.
#316-My mother's family originated in Sutherland, Scotland,
Thrown out by George III after 1748, the name- Anderson. One of my favorite authors of history is Stephen Howarth who wrote about the Norwegian Resistance in WW2 -"The Shetland Bus" is my favorite having known Oregon Coast Commercial fishermen in my life,I can appreciate that story of great hearts and Seamanship...

I think this image from 349 is multiple images photoshoped together. The reason I think so is the stars are streaked meaning a long exposure, yet at the fire fountain on the left there are no long streaks from the incandescent fire bombs and in fact there may be stars as single dots at the top of the fountain.

If this has already been stated for these reasons pardon me but there are to many posts to follow.

By Dasnowskier (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

349 That photo produced a long thread in the DP Review forum. Everyone was positive. I've had long experience of this forum, normally if you post anything remotely dodgy you get torn to pieces immediately. I think it's right and generally fantastic.

eddie McCloy (435):

I have problems with the photo but none of them have to do with the length of the exposure time or the number of the lightnings.

@Jón: Here i am again going on about the harmonic tremors. :)

The windspeed seems to have subsided a bit..Down to 6, maybe 7m/s but the Helicorders still show very little reduction in activity.

If this is indeed mostly magmatic activity what kind of flows would cause these tremors? I realize it may be almost impossible to give a straight answer but if you or anyone with more knowledge could maybe "guesstimate"?

And one more question which might be equally hard to answer, what could these readings indicate? Can they give an indication as to which direction these flows are moving?

Trying to lear as much as possible here now that the opportunity has shown itself..:)

@Anna 422

It actually could be a lava fountain, and there could be small lava flows inside the crater that are being fragmented and turned to ash when they encounter water or ice. My earlier assertion (right at the beginning of this thread) that it was much more likely to be incandescent ash pulses and/or a reflection of the incandescent vent in the plume was based on the assumption that the magma erupting here was still its original andesitic composition. Andesite can produce blocky flows and lava domes, but with gas involved it tends to produce strombolian activity (or something more violent still); I have never heard of it being of low enough viscosity to produce a Hawaiian-style lava fountain.

But if the magma seen at the initial eruption (phase 1) that began on March 4 is erupting again, either alongside (not unheard-of, although very uncommon) or instead of the more viscous material that has been producing the ash plume since the 14th of April, than it could very well be fountaining, and the beginning of a fourth phase to this eruption. This may well be why the harmonic tremor recently intensified - instead of one magma breaking its way through the rock, a second one may have joined it.

And the photo looks real to me...the star streaks show that this was an exposure of significant length, allowing for multiple events at different times to be captured in the same image.

In any case, I don't think Eyjafjallajökull is finished... but it does seem that the phreatomagmatic pseudo-Plinian eruption is done for now (I think the only Plinian criteria the eruption meets is plume height, hence the "pseudo"). It is probably safe to fly again as long as the pockets where ash is still concentrated at a certain altitude are carefully monitored so aircraft can avoid them.

And now the finger-pointing is starting...the governments are being blamed by the airlines for closing their airspace rather than let the airlines risk the lives of their predictable.

By VolcanoMan (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

With hundreds of genuine, breath-taking images produced to date from this eruption, who cares of one appears to be manipulated? It is irrelevant, as there is abundant and widely available photographic evidence of eruption particulars to drawn upon.

The tremor graphs continue to show a sustained level of activity. With reports that the glacier has lost more than 10 percent of it's mass, I wonder what would be the immediate effect on stress-strain at and under the crater.

Previous reports suggested that mass loss over the past two decades may have been as much as 30 percent, much of it at the outlet glaciers. With this additional rapid loss, that is pushing 40 percent of the mass, with major melt loss at at least two outlet glaciers and where the glacier mass is heaviest, near the glacier mass centroid.

Very interesting mechanics going on here. I wonder if the change in glacier mass might be linked to this sustained tremor plateau?

We had some evidence that previous tremor graph peaks were correlated to major melt flood events.

I also wonder how it might influence shallow magma movement, perhaps there is a feed-back effect melt rate.

The UK Royal Navy has finally been given the go-ahead to move stranded passengers across the Channel. The original plans were put in place on Friday, then canceled by command.

Now we hear that stranded transcontinental passengers abroad will be flown to a collection point at airports in southern Spain and then bussed to ferry points where the Navy will shuttle them back to home shores.

After hearing about the near-riot caused by mismanagement of Customs and Immigration officials from a large group of passengers who were stranded in France and brought over by ferry on Saturday night, then detained for hours in a lengthy queue for a check of papers that caused all of them to miss connecting trains home - we suggest further application of prudence in having a combined force of foreign and UK customs/immigration officials check papers on European shores, as passengers wait to be transported.

These people are at a point far past normal level of frustration.

@Anna: I hope you can soon afford photographic gear (even used) that lets you do long-term exposures. A coupla caveats, though: 1) They can be addictive, and 2) you may wind up wondering if the camera 'shopped things behind your back.

By Reynir Heiðbe… (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

Oh look what I've just found...a case study, and an Iceland related one at that:

Considering the current furore I particularly like these quotes [emphasis added] from the abstract:

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."

and this from the summary:

"There was no evidence of engine damage in the engine trending results, but some of the turbine blades had been operating partially uncooled and may have had a remaining lifetime of as little as 100 hr."

@ VolcanoMan #442:

"But if the magma seen at the initial eruption (phase 1) that began on March 4 is erupting again, either alongside (not unheard-of, although very uncommon) or instead of the more viscous material that has been producing the ash plume since the 14th of April, than it could very well be fountaining, and the beginning of a fourth phase to this eruption."

This was my initial thought when I saw the photo but that thought only lasted a fraction of a second.

You see, scientists flew over the eruption site around 9 or 10 GMT to check what's going on (it's around 14:45 GMT now) and reported what they saw in the 12 o'clock news.

It's clear that there is no renewed activity at the old Fimmvörðuháls eruption site, no new fissure on the glacier spouting a lava fountain and no actual lava flows in the existing crater.

If you have a simple Canon powershot camera, you might want to try using CHDK firmware to extend your exposure time (even up to 64 sec)
It is also possible to run a script on your camera which helps to 'catch' lightning.

(Sorry for sounding a bit commercial.)

WRT photo #349 I see no reason for it to be fake. Having shot long exposures of star trails, lightning and fire it all seems to fit with what is shown in that image.

For example neither of these photos taken by me actually looked like that with the naked eye.


Star trails and fire

The latter photo is the most important as it shows the relationship with long exposures and "eruptions". Obviously this was just a standard campfire with the occasional flame and flicker not some raging inferno.However every increase and eruption in the say 20 minutes will be captures and overlay each other making things look far more active.

You are responsible for yourself. If you are not capable of judging the risks for yourself, you have no business flying.

Typical corporatarian victim-bashing. Tell us, George, if "the people" don't have the technical expertise required to judge ALL the risks of running a jet engine with bits of volcanic ash in it, and if the airlines aren't necessarily being honest with their paying customers, and if the givernment aren't taking any action to keep the airlines honest, then how can the people really "judge the risk for themselves" and be expected to get it right?

By Raging Bee (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

Now we hear that stranded transcontinental passengers abroad will be flown to a collection point at airports in southern Spain and then bussed to ferry points where the Navy will shuttle them back to home shores.

Sounds like they're re-enacting the evacuation of Dunkirk.

By Raging Bee (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

@Anna #453

Yeah, so the change in activity is probably related to the depletion of meltwater from the eruption site like Erik posted. And my initial doubts that it was fountaining were probably correct...just incandescence from the vent area reflecting off the plume, plus maybe some incandescent tephra. Still, a phenomenal photograph.

By VolcanoMan (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

#418 Boris wrote:
" the dome at Katla (whose existence is speculative, not confirmed) formed during an episode of heightened seismic activity and deformation in 1999, so it was limited in time and probably very small.

As far as is known Katla is not showing any whatsoever signs of unrest. So I guess discussion about what Katla *could* do are, for the moment, entirely in the realm of phantasy. We should also be aware that the most recent eruptions of Katla, in 1860 and 1918, were certainly very violent, but far from creating any global climatic effects. On the other hand, one thing is sure, once Katla erupts, it will be a BIG mess in air traffic in Europe and in the north Atlantic. "

Thanks for the info about that lava dome Boris. I also agree with you about a eruption at Katla is entirely speculative at the moment. As you mentioned there are no sign of unrest so far :)

By Mattias Larsson (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

Would you agree that the opening of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge is a natural follow-on from the closure or tightening of the southern subduction zone along the coast of Chile? Is it too simplistic to compare the squeezing of the South American volcanoes and the pressure between Alaska and Siberia, with the opening of a widening rift in Iceland, following 'adjustment' through the Carribean? Is this how it works, generally, or specifically in relation to the present eruption of Mt Eyjaf? Or is there a different mechanism at work?

The ash models you linked to show the ash reaching Newfoundland, not Nova Scotia.... and as some previous commenters mentioned, flights were cancelled out of St. John this morning as a precaution. Are there actually predictions of it potentially reaching Nova Scotia (or did you just get the provinces mixed up on the map lol)?

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