SLN Geography Forum

General Category => General Discussion => Topic started by: Andrew Stacey on April 01, 2010, 07:47:29 AM

Title: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Andrew Stacey on April 01, 2010, 07:47:29 AM
As the Iceland volcanic thread seems to have disappeared, can those people who posted links, and I'm thinking especially of Val and Judith, re-post ... as the show at the crater's edge goes on!
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Judith R on April 01, 2010, 08:47:19 AM
As all the links are in my Favourites I can oblige!
The one looking from 'the other side' where you could see 4WD driving away last night
The one with 2 views - can't see anything today which makes you realise how good the visibility has been so far
The original one with a nice long distance view.
Iceland review - lots of articles including some this mornng about the evacuation after the second vent opened last night.
Christopher Lund's amazing photos.

The thing I don't have is any copy of Ian's amazing descriptions. Val PLEASE repost.
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Judith R on April 01, 2010, 08:55:01 AM
And here's a new one - if only I was there and had a spare 43000 ISK!
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: ValVannet on April 01, 2010, 09:32:07 AM
Will do!  I have them stored safely at home.
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Judith R on April 01, 2010, 12:25:54 PM
Visibility very poor now - it's snowing!
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Plene on April 01, 2010, 05:31:10 PM
The Chris Lund photos are superb! I now have a new desktop image.

If I could I'd be off to Iceland tomorrow.
Just have to hope that it stays active until the summer!
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: ValVannet on April 01, 2010, 09:37:28 PM
OK... long posting of the diaries of VolcanIan coming up.....

Blimey, this is for real. I was walking on the lower flanks of the volcano yesterday afternoon, hours before it started. I had gone to bed at about 23.00 or so; I had taken a walk on my deck to view the stars and moon just before and there was, a hint ... of something, unknown at the time. I was then deep asleep and I awoke just after midnight; I thought this odd as I usually sleep like a log! It was windy so I put it down to that. Then my phone went off; very strange indeed - it also seemed to "play its tune" at twice the normal speed. "Ian, have you heard; evacuate now, the volcano has blown; be very quick". It then became rather unreal; what do you pack in such a situation, am I ever to be back; just how quickly should I leave? I dashed around the house, gathered wallet, phones, chargers, laptops and the like and my Passport and various important bits of documentation. I remembered to dress too; what to wear, what to take; just what was the end game of this to be.  As I looked east, there it was, a rich red/orange glow, emanating from the mountains and above it hovered a red cloud reflecting this. It was way up the valley, in the area of Thorsmork. The valley was alive with lights; people were evacuating very quickly. Would it be an ash fall? Lava bombs? A lava flow?
I had more calls …….come on, are you OK, get out. I then drove to Hvolsvollur, to the school to register. All was bright, warm and calm there; everyone was anxious but all was quiet. Seemingly everyone is now accounted for and evacuated (400 - 500 persons); it is very strange to think of this. A road block was set up to stop sightseers coming in to the valley. However, as I drove to Selfoss to get a bed in a friend’s house, the number of cars driving east, towards the volcano was incredible; I have hardly seen as many cars on a July afternoon. Most cars seemed to be saloon cars so I am guessing that many youths, out on a Saturday night, heard about the eruption and set out to see it. Fortunately, as I drove in to Selfoss, another police road block was being established to stop this.  I am now homeless, a refugee; this is very odd. My wee hus! Now it is big news of course; everyone is waiting to see what the authorities say. The Press conference at 11.00 gave no real update, only that the situation is being watched and nature is in control. Farmers are being allowed in just to feed animals and then come back out again; this is a real live volcanic emergency and, actually, it´s not fun at all, it is quite something to think that here is an other episode of Iceland´s formation going on as I type. But when people, property,livestock, livelihoods are at risk, I am afraid that the whole event is somewhat surreal; just what is going to happen. Mind you, if all this dies down, guess where I´ll be hiking this summer - you bet!

And a later up-date…….OK, everyone from the valley is in total limbo. All fights into/out of Iceland are stopped at the moment. It is all just a matter of waiting and seeing. The authorities are "still out" on what´s going on/what´s happening. Go to (English version) for stories, pics, video. Also try Yikes, Blimey, this is for real.   (as Oor Wullie would say!)    Skal, Ian

Update Monday 22nd March
All is still pretty alarming. The eruption is getting bigger but it does seems to be "contained" (famous last words!). The scientists have had a good chance to monitor it (and take some amazing photos) and we are allowed to sleep in our homes in the valley if we wish tonight. I am back home after 2 nights in Selfoss - SO good to be home - but many homes are dark as people are frightened (or just plain wise).There are 2 cones growing; it is classic, a fissure eruption, with several points of main ejecta but two main cones forming at the moment. I am sitting at my big table, looking east and waiting, ever hopefully, for the evening glow to appear (as it did on Saturday night - jings, that was an experience ... I'll have heaps of stories for our Rayburn Tours groups in the future ("I was there"!); a surcharge will of course apply!. It is very cloudy tonight (Monday) though so maybe no "glowings" tonight.¨I am taking photos off the TV - some good images and good graphics. Got quite a good "live" one today as I drove from Selfoss; Wow, I've just looked out again - the valley is VERY dark. Police have blocked the road far up the valley (where there will be great viewpoint); I ventured there today but no luck. A few helicopters have been flying around.    Godan nott, Ian

Update Wednesday 23rd March
It looks like it is going to be a "tourist eruption". It is shaping up to be very beautiful - lava flows and cinder cones; images look superb (the ones you directed us to on SLN). It is also on a walking route through from Skogar to Thorsmork ... I can't wait; maybe I can do it in April once I return from Morocco (yes, I head there on Friday - hope there are no earthquakes in the Atlas on the converging plates - yikes and crikes again!). The existing walking guide poles on the route seemingly lead right directly into the growing crater! – talk about early preparation ; all very convenient! Thus it looks like we could have a "Krafla type" scene (NE Iceland - wonderful) here in the mid south; FANDABBIDOZIE! oh, yes, I'll be working on a day option as soon as I can! There will be amazing sights to see and wonderful lava formations. I am much more relaxed now - foolishly so? - and it is so good to be back home in my hus and to feel that the authorities have got a handle on things and really know what they are talking about. There are some great seismologists here  and they have been able to do fly-overs as well as approach on foot to about 1km seemingly; they went out on the Saturday night and Sunday night and they report that the weather for the rescue/emergency people was never worse - incredible winds and snow - epic! but still they had a "ball" (no doubt of fire!)). But they have amazing knowledge and understanding of what is going on. They seem to have all sorts of technology to allow them to know what's down there and how it is acting/changing; we need geo-physicists, that's for sure; wonderful stuff. Hinrik (who runs accommodation used by Rayburn Tours) and I had a great coffee break this morning at my big table, looking out my window towards the cloud covered mountain - can't wait till it clears ... better be before Friday! Hinrik could tell me all that had been on the news the night before; all very reassuring for us in Fljotshlid. Did I tell you I had been to a community meeting in Godaland (across the road from Husid) in 2005 where the whole scenario of what could happen was played out? It was really interesting; the whole landscape has been modelled and all sorts of scenarios were then played out - showing the waves of water that a glacial flood could bring, the depths it could be and for how long it would be at that depth as it passed to the ocean. But then, a bigger problem is created – as the glacial flood pushes back the sea, it returns as a wall of water to a narrower coastal fringe. The good news is that even in the worst case scenario, Husid and Skalinn (Rayburn accommodation) are safe - but ma wee hus may not be (in a worst case scenario; imagine the insurance claim form!). In fact so safe is Skalinn it would become a rescue/evacuation post for those on the lower valley bottom. It is also incredible how every eventuality has been considered, planned for, mitigated against. etc. Hey, this is Iceland; here they DO things, not just talk about things. And remember too that in Iceland, "Everybody matters", local or visitor ….

It is now thought that the eruption is going to be like the 1973 eruption on Heimaey; wonderful. They reckon it will go on as it is just now (steady and calm) for weeks, perhaps months, building up an "Eldfell". At the moment there is one fissure with one significant cinder/tephra cone and crater growing and within it ….six plumes of lava fountains and lava bombs - looks really beautiful (why are such forms so entrancing?). There is one lava flow moving down a valley and into Thorsmork but this is no problem at all, just plain exciting. Water temperatures in rivers/streams are now about 11 degrees C as the lava is melting snow (not ice) that feeds into the river systems; again. not a problem. And now the talk is, "How do we get locals/tourists in easily to view this new natural phenomena" - superb. So, watch this space; imagine, a day out from Husid/Skalinn on some of the freshest land surfaces on the globe and all so nearby; what a bonus!
 Tomorrow evening (Wed) at 20.30 there is a big meeting in the Sports Hall in Hvolsvollur to bring everyone up-to-date (and one at 15.00 for Polish speakers - no mention of one for Scottish speakers!). So, now it is all looking really very exciting; I'd get a group booked into Husid/Skalinn as soon as possible ... 2011 could be a busy year!

24th March 11am

"VolcanIan" reporting in again - it's all go! Hope you like the next instalment.

This morning (Wed) I was up at 05.15 as the wind had dropped and I thought that maybe low cloud had lifted off the mountains and volcano - it had! What a show from my house; the rich orangey/red glow was back, the fire that had made us all leave the valley so quickly last Saturday night/Sunday evening.   Out of all of my east facing windows it was quite a show.  Yes, I have a loo with a view, that’s for sure; who’d have thought it! Believe it or not, I hesitated, not out of fear (I am getting so into this event now  unlike in the first few days of great uncertainty), but more I was thinking should I go back to bed or should I put on some clothes and drive east in to the valley with binoculars for an even better show. Well, my indecision was short lived -  on with some clothes and I drove at great speed up the valley  -15 minutes to the farthest in we are allowed to go. The Logreglan (police) were stationed at the river crossing over a tributary to the Markarfljot River; what a night shift for them! There was only the cop car and one other 4x4, a local farmer I think and myself.

It was AWESOME; fountains of lava ejecta into the air, lava bombs too. It was like watching Strokkur geysir in reverse ... and in red/orange. There is a cinder cone volcano forming (in the style of Eldfell on Heimaey). There is one main column of lava fountain; almost constant, like an enormous hosepipe shooting lava in the air. I could see the edge of a lava flow too; all some distance away but with binoculars it was like "I was there" (and possibly as close as I would like to be for the moment). Oh my!  As well as the main fountain of lava, there are subsidiary ones (I assume in a line NE/SW); they also did their wee lava dances too. Sometimes it looked like an exploding firework rocket, you know, the expensive ones, how they go high up in the air and then explode with a cluster of lights radiating out and then falling to earth - just like that.

I tried to take photographs but to no avail - too difficult for my little camera to gain any more than a red glow (of which I am actually quite proud!). But, actually, it is being here, seeing, it, believing it that counts. The professionals will give us some brilliant shots in good time. It really is remarkable to witness this; live action, seeing how it works  not sure I believed it all until now (joking!). I no longer have to go to Hawaii!

It was funny as I drove back down the valley to my house; there was also an orange glow sitting over Vestmnannaeyar, the town on the island of Heimaey. I knew it came from the streets lights and they were being reflected by the clouds above the island but, in my mind, when I lined up that "human glow" with the natural glow behind me on the montains, WOW, there it was, all illuminated and clear to imagine, the SW/NE line of the Mid Atlantic Ridge, Eastern Zone; MEGA WOW definitely a geographer's moment!

OK, all I see at the moment from my breakfast table is lots of steam  - as the lava is meeting the winter snow you can imagine what happens. Luckily the eruption is not below either of the two neighbouring icecaps. Spookily, the new volcano is growing almost exactly in the middle of the gap between the 2 icecaps . The weather forecast is for improving weather today and onwards. If the sky is clear tonight, after dark, I think that there will be many flasks of coffee and lots of cake heading up the valley in 4x4s to watch the show; I must remember to take my camera!  Skal, Ian   

25th March
Meeting in Hvolsvollur was AMAZINLY interesting; will tell all in the "report" I am planning to write - just not enough hours in the day/days in the week.  At end I hovered and spoke to the Chief Seismologist, Magnus. I was determined to meet him. He was great. I asked him for a quote for SAGT ... and he gave me a great one (aha; wait till I write it all down.  VERY special) Just back from my third up valley jaunt; heaps of locals out to view;  what a spectacle. This is simply an ASTOUNDING event.  I'll catch up with write ups when I can; these last days have been totally wonderfully, emotionally CRAZY!

26th March

I am still frothing with excitement about the volcano - SO much to tell. Presently in T4 at LHR having just come in to T1 from Iceland ... on my way to Marrakech!  I am trying to write up the last two days - amazing - but there are not enough hours in the day; maybe this afternoon once I am checked in and then on the flight. I got some great shots this morning from my "A" seat, However  now, after speaking with the couple that sat next to me on the plane I have MORE stories; OMG x n! I spoke to a couple in the plane and now have the most amazing aerial close up shots of the eruption.  ( ON THE ICELAND PICS PAGE)
27th March
Well, it's where it all began, I suppose! 4.6 billion years ago... to this!     I managed to write up all my activities these last few days in the flights yesterday - I am delighted to have done this as it was worrying me that I might forget it! I need to go back now and check spelling and add wee bits in etc. but the guts of it is done. I will try to get this to you as soon as I can.

And here it is ....

Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: ValVannet on April 01, 2010, 09:46:03 PM
Another OMG moment - it is completely amazingly, indescribable right now!  A total fireball with new lava flows....
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Victoria on April 01, 2010, 09:55:17 PM
Still loving watching the webcam...

Iceland Express fares also very interesting (if frustrating!) - for about 10 mins earlier this evening, there were outward flights for £37 before taxes... back up to £72 again now... Lottery win needed - or a trip in summer after my exam marking if the eruption is still going on then!
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: ValVannet on April 01, 2010, 10:05:01 PM
It may be my imagination but I think I am seeing a lot of vehicle headlights moving at some speed away from the new crater and towards the webcam! If I were in their position, I think I'd be doing the same thing only faster......

Sequence of pics here
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Judith R on April 01, 2010, 10:15:37 PM
Thanks for the Ian stuff Val - will put it into Word so I can keep it!

No - it's not your imagination  - loads of headlights. Last night there were only one or two at a time, but quite a convoy tonight. I've added it to the ppt collection.
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Judith R on April 01, 2010, 10:45:12 PM
Just been having a browse of the latest articles on Iceland Review. If you find the article that mentions 'beautiful videos' - watch it! True awe and wonder.
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Judith R on April 04, 2010, 05:41:33 PM
Found this site which has a map of the webcam locations.

My favourite one went off and then seems to be showing a different view - can't watch all the cars etc any more    :(, although loads of helicopters flying over today  :)
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Judith R on April 06, 2010, 10:17:48 AM
All very snowy and quiet today - complete white-out yesterday!

Iceland Review provided the link to the NASA Earth Observatory sequence of photos:

Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: meg on April 06, 2010, 12:28:20 PM
The video is amazing Judith thanks for posting about it. I probably would not have seen it otherwise.

and can see ash streaking across this webcam(!) - looks quite large!
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: jackys on April 07, 2010, 04:47:13 PM
There is a new webcam up and running now - lovely views!
Lots of activity with planes flying over and numerous vehicles of one sort and another.
On further study I think it's the first one back again but the cones are so much bigger than they were before - amazing to see just how quickly they grow!
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: ValVannet on April 09, 2010, 11:52:49 PM
Some good footage from Icelandic TV here
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Paul on April 14, 2010, 12:51:25 PM
Wednesday, April 14th 2010

    * 08:05 - BREAKING NEWS! - NEW ERUPTION HAS STARTED. More news to follow here!
    * 08:08 - Iceland´s Coast Guard airplane is now flying over the glacier to try to get a better view of what´s happening.
    * 08:21 - It looks like the eruption is actually in Gígjokull glacier. See map from RUV.
    * 08:34 - Water level in Markarfljót river has risen by about 1 meter in a short time.
    * 08:49 - 700 people have been ordered to evacuate their homes due to new volcanic activity in Gígjokull, Iceland
    * 09:25 - Hopefully the volcano webcams will provide a clear view of the new developments as weather in the area gets better.
    * 09:44 - The eruption is underneath a glacier and is melting the ice, causing water flow from there to double in short time
    * 10:25 - Tremors are by far exceeding what happened in the first eruption. See activity.
    * 10:45 - Three big holes haven been located in the glacier. The ash cloud has now reached 22.000 feet.


Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Judith R on April 14, 2010, 03:50:11 PM
Thanks for the update Paul. I hope everyone is safe there.
Unfortunately one of the older webcams doesn't seem to be there any more, but the weather recently has been filthy, so mostly dark and cloudy.
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Judith R on April 14, 2010, 04:01:18 PM
lots of related stories here on Iceland Review:
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Andrew Stacey on April 14, 2010, 06:08:40 PM
Thanks, Paul. The poor visibility of the last few days has been frustrating, but the new eruptive sequence seems to be of a different order altogether. The Markarfljót rising by a foot impressing me most - scary river!
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: ValVannet on April 14, 2010, 06:15:40 PM
Now they are saying a metre rise!  I am currently trying to track Ian down....
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Judith R on April 14, 2010, 06:22:51 PM
Let us know once you hear Val!
Is it the river that we could see when everyone went up the hill early in the trip last year? According to a story in Iceland Review the bridge has been removed so it doesn't get swept away.

There's some footage of the flood on the BBC news site - not clear but still spectacular.

This one is clear and spectacular!
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: ValVannet on April 14, 2010, 07:09:35 PM
There is a good bit of aerial footage from the Iceland Coastgurad here  .  Towards the end there are several views of the swollen Markarfljot river with Stora Dimon (which the SAGT group climbed last summer) in the distance. At the top Ian gave us a good account of defences on the floodplain just in case a jokullhlaup should happen......

A couple of pics of the river that day..

Both look towards the Eyafyallajokull.
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Judith R on April 14, 2010, 07:10:24 PM
Thanks - that answered my question!
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: ValVannet on April 14, 2010, 11:00:16 PM
Latest from VolcanIan....

It´s all happening again. Glacial flood from Eyjafjallajokull
began today. Valley evacuated again at 04.00 this morning (I am
in R´vik). Road closed. Then "1" road actually broken
deliberately to let flood water escape and not damage bridge -
seems to have worked. Farms inundated. This is TOO much
excitement. Will watch 19.00 news tonight to learn the latest.
 My view to E´jokull is sure
going to be spectacular now! Good grief, on my doorstep or what!
I need my Balvenie these days!

Just decided today that the opportunity to witness the earth in action like this doesn't present itself too often in a lifetime so have booked flights for July....
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: edge on April 15, 2010, 07:08:11 AM
UK air space is now affected by the ash cloud in the upper atmosphere, Manchester seems not be flying, delays at Glasow and we've had warnings about delays from our local news prorammes at Norwich, Luton and Stansted. (
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: ValVannet on April 15, 2010, 07:16:42 AM
All flights in and out of Scotland are now cancelled, it seems. 

However, I have just been listening to the news and am a bit disappointed to hear them talking of ash being carried by 'south easterly winds'.  When I think of the years of telling pupils that you name winds by the direction they come from......
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: podders on April 15, 2010, 08:32:01 AM
All domestic flights cancelled according to BBC. Had just been doing a lesson on the supervolcano in Yellowstone and why you cant evacuate people by aeroplane after the eruption ...... strange. Certainly early days and will be keeping my computer on all day today!!
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: meg on April 15, 2010, 09:43:41 AM
Have just been looking at these amazing photos with a class - do be aware though at the end of the comments section there are some rather unsavoury user names !

I have a friend who has a school party out there just now - I'm hoping all is ok with them as well as Ian.
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Victoria on April 15, 2010, 09:53:51 AM
Some interesting satellite images here

Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: ValVannet on April 15, 2010, 12:00:47 PM
An excellent BBC 1 Breaking News 'special' is on right now.  My son and I are watching - it is fascinating to watch his reaction as he recognises areas we  explored last summer.  From the footage of the breached Number 1 road I'd say that no one will be travelling east along the south coast of Iceland for some time!

Also interesting to hear the medical experts warning of problems for asthma sufferers in the UK.....
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: gilmoregirl on April 15, 2010, 03:22:06 PM

amazing pic of the northern lights and the volcanic eruption together.
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: zyxwvut on April 15, 2010, 05:50:52 PM
More photos from (
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: ValVannet on April 15, 2010, 10:54:13 PM
Good footage on Icelandic TV news this evening . Lots of ash laden landscapes in Iceland compared to endless coverage of empty airports!
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: ValVannet on April 16, 2010, 03:11:13 PM
I think we should be feeling very priviledged to be getting first hand news like this from VolcanIan. It certainly puts a different slant on events.....

Hello everyone ,


              Thanks for your emails, very much appreciated. This is a
very serious situation for Iceland/Icelanders. Sadly, BBC
news/Sky news is only concentrating on the disruption to
flights; here it is really serious, now and for the future.
Livlihoods, farming, livestock, migrating birds, landscapes,
fish spawning areas, water supplies, tourism, etc., etc.,
etc. I have been staying in Reykjavik these last 5 days with
a group (who had a brills time - super A level students with
Plate tectonics and natural hazard monitoring, management
and mitigation as a "major" in their syllabus) so am only
now back to internet connection. I am in Selfoss now on the
way back to my hus - I hope it is a hus and not a boat. All
seems OK at the moment but this is a major geographical
event with changed physical and human geography in the
making, on a grand scale. So it is supremely exciting to
witness all of this but also very, very anxious time. I am
desperate to get to Fljotshlid Valley and to see the state
of play. I think I will be allowed in  but may need to stay
with friends "higher up" the valley sides. But tomorrow it
is forecast to be a good sunny day so I cannot imagine the
scene that will be revealed - glorious Eyjafjallajokull will
be completely changed.Gigajokull is severly affected, the
road in to Thorsmork too. The embankments are holding the
Markarfljot river in its channel as planned (such AMAZING
engineering; did you hear that they cut the "1" road in 4
places to ease the pressure on the big road bridge? It
worked; the dischargh volumes are enormous).

     I am en route from Reykjavik, as I say, to my hus at the moment. It
was SO good to call in to the coach company just now in Selfoss; They
are great people and I worked with many of them; to be welcomed,
greeted, and to have my wellbeing asked about was terrrifically
warming; in Iceland EVERYONE  matters, it is such a great feeling.

  Now in Cafe Lif  gaining internet
access. The black coffee is helping. So good to be heading east to my
home area and to people I know. I will soon see it all for myself. I
will hope to write a report and keep all updated but my life is in
such a froth these days that I am pretty well drained. My hus looks
directlky across to the new eruptive such - Gordon Bennett! Quite a
view from my deck - no need for binoculars!

     AS I say, in a rush but just say ing all is well for the moment. DO
go on to; and for

     Do please keep in touch; it helps a lot, many thanks.

     Goodness knows when my last group will get home (by ship?); blimey,
this is actually totally incredible to part of it all. Utterly
impressive toisee Iceland authorities in action; it really is so well

     OK, gotta go ...
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Judith R on April 16, 2010, 03:26:09 PM
Thanks Val - it really brings it home how serious the situation is.
The long-term implications for the country aren't too good either given the current economic situation.
As usual, pass on our best wishes and thanks to Ian.
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Ruth N on April 16, 2010, 09:26:09 PM
Thank you Val for the updates from Ian.  Please pass on thanks and best wishes to him.  It is just so amazing to have these first hand accounts .... and what fantastic video footage on the Iceland Review website.  Thanks Judith for posting that link.
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Andrew Stacey on April 17, 2010, 08:08:12 AM
Stunning webcam this morning, in glorious crystal-clear air! Saw a lovely item yesterday on the BBC site, with one student saying it was the best fieldtrip ever!
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: ValVannet on April 17, 2010, 09:20:39 AM
Managed to chat with Ian on Skype last night.  He has been allowed back to his 'hus'!.  No tourists are allowed in to the area.  It was totally surreal to be speaking to someone who was watching flashes of lightening in the night sky above a volcano.  You can see his pics captured earlier last night here
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: ValVannet on April 18, 2010, 12:28:36 AM
A couple of email communications from Ian Hardie received today.  Images he refers to are uploaded to
 Ian is happy for these to be 'used'.     
1)   This is simply wonderful - at the moment! Here are a couple of
pics taken at breakfast time this morning. There seems to be no
abating of the eruption, if anything ... !

     Glorious weather, clrear blue sky but with the wind now a northerly
the volcanic dust plume is going south to completely cover Heimaey -
it looks very black there. Oh dear, the problems for them,
unimagineable. What about their fish (never mind catching them,
getting them exported too - I belive there are 000's of tonnes of
fish now in cold store in R'vik awaiting air flights). There are
going to be stories and stories galore after this all dies down.

     So exciting to be living in a "sealed valley" - only locals allowed
in case the "261" road becomes jammed up and an evacuation is

2) Holy fumeroles, this is amazing! Sorry, got to let someone know (a way of
letting off personal steam!). The volcano is constantly erupting but with
bouts of white ash cloud, grey cloud and almost black cloud. I can watch
the "shoots" of grey ejecta racing into the sky, ballooning out into
cauliflower clouds (or are they grey brains ... it doesn't really
"matter"!). Sometimes one "burst" ceases and then it is followed
immediately by a second one thus producing two clouds quite different in
nature, side by side. West Heimaey can now just be seen again through the
volcanic haze; funny to think of Eldfell gaining an exotic fresh ash
coating from Eyjafjallajokull. It is a glorious blue sky day and
the icecap beneath the volcano is still pristine white with glistening ice
- so beautiful. I think that there is going to be at least one new
volcanic cone on the top of Eyjafjallajokull at the end of all this, I can
see a whole new "top" forming already. I do hope the wind does not swing
round to the east. I cannot imagine the power that is being released from
this eruption - stunning. There have been a few official helicopters going
about so there should be some good news film on TV soon. But the valley
here is still closed to outsiders in case they hamper any evacuation that
may become necessary; again my bags and sleeping bag are packed by the
door should the call come to evacuate again (yes, and my breakfast dishes
are washed too!).

Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Andrew Stacey on April 18, 2010, 10:49:05 AM
Good maps at . Despite being in harm's way, Ian is clearly loving the show. I hate him already! ;)
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Judith R on April 18, 2010, 12:17:37 PM
I can 'hear' his voice as I read - Ian has a great knack of writing just how he talks!
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: ValVannet on April 18, 2010, 12:49:50 PM
And more this morning from Ian Hardie.....


Well, it began to fall at about 09.15 this morning, a light fall, a “drizzle” almost, but quite white and light in texture, silently. It covered my outside decking almost completely (and within just a few minutes) but only to a depth of about 2mms. There was little or no wind so it fell uniformly. Yes, these winter snows in Iceland can fall any month of the year! Thought that would wake you up, sorry! No dust fall here as yet.

Yesterday, I only now fully realise, proved to be a magnificent day for watching the mind boggling eruption and events taking place on Eyjafjallajökull . It was a totally clear day with a strong north wind and so the views from the Fljótshlið Valley and my hús were simply world class, stunning, beautiful, awesome, the lot. Last night as darkness fell the great fat “trunks” of ejected, billowing ash and dust were still being strongly jettisoned into the air over the mountain from three craters, each with their own distinctive chemical colour palette. The lightning was spectacular. As the upshot particles and rocks collided and rubbed together, as they rose hundreds and thousands of metres from the craters, they created enormous electrical charges. When these then discharged the lightning bolts and flashes were brilliant (in both senses of the word). Sometimes the flashes were localised, occurring throughout the volcanic cloud (although more were located nearer to the mountain summit), small and they appeared as light bulbs being randomly switched on and off. Every so often a great linear bolt of lightning would also appear, running almost the entire length of the height of the volcanic cloud, looking itself like a volcanic fissure, not always continuous, often fragmented, but always in a crooked line, sometimes forking; what power was being released.

Yesterday, as the day ended and evening began, a dense, deepening purple/blue haze could be seen to be settling on the south side of Eyjafjallajökull (the side facing the ocean). It was a massive bowl of volcanic dust and debris, engulfing all the farms and little communities “under the mountain”. This bowl of dust, of which I could only see the upper portion, was all the more remarkable as it was masked to me on its lower portion by the pure white snow and ice of Eyjafjallajökull mountain. As the sun lowered in the west, the volcanic plume also deepened in colour with fawns and dull oranges appearing in amongst an ever deepening petrol blue/slate grey volcanic cloud. There was no let up in the ferocity of the eruption.

The Icelandic TV news last night was all about the effects of the eruption on those people living “below the mountain”. I was incorrect in stating that the island of Heimaey had gained a covering of ash yesterday; the wind direction was just saving their island by a whisker (an island so devastated in 1973 ... but that really is another story). Instead the Heimaey people were gazing northwards to the mainland, not so much thinking of the spectacular nature of the volcanic eruption but thinking of the people and how they would be feeling; they could fully empathise in the light of their experiences 37 years ago and in the dark days that they endured.

It was pitch black all along the south coast “1” road all day yesterday. The yellow plastic sticks that are placed every 50m on both sides of the road to show where the road is during snow storms, driving rain and fog (and which are, trust me, totally invaluable) , could not be seen from one to another due to the density of volcanic ash in the air. Everyone was wearing nose and mouth masks, animals were being kept indoors. Any cars of the Rescue Team/Authorities that were moving threw up great clouds of talcum like dust; thanks goodness it has been dry, just what would rain/snow do to the situation. Of course, again, farmers are only allowed in to attend to their animals but not to stay overnight. One farm, Thorvalseyri, one of the largest in Iceland, is very well known to everyone; it is a big complex, white walls, red roofs, typical for Icelandic farms. Its setting is glorious - fertile lands, neat buildings against a backdrop of the lower flanks and then glacial top of Eyjafjallajökull. The farmer is very adventurous and has increasingly been growing cereal crops and oil seed rape (a positive consequence of global climatic change – yes, there are many ... but that too is another story!); indeed I have some bags of his milled flour in my hús. The farmer was hoping to convert his farm machinery to use never more rape oil as a fuel; such effort, such ingenuity, such determination, such “get on and do it”; such a typical Icelander. But what now of his land, his livestock, his livelihood? The people “under the mountain” will have stories to tell and lives to rebuild. 

Overnight there was no evacuation call; this provided much relief to everyone. On waking and heading to my east windows (the loo one first!) the volcano had “gone”. The sky was filled instead with low, mid grey, stratus cloud and little could be seen, only the lower slopes of Eyjafjallajökull . A dusting of snow could be seen on these lower slopes and around Seljalandsfoss (looking at first like it was an ash fall) but, otherwise, yesterday could all have been a dream. Thus my realisation that yesterday was such a special an event. So, is the volcano still active? Is it still creating new landscapes? Just what is going on? At least the weather forecast is still for either westerly or northerly winds today and through much of next week; no solace for the people below the mountain but a relief that perhaps, just perhaps, other farming areas and communities might escape the anxieties and threats from ash fall. But, it’s nature; we have just to sit tight, keep together and wait and see.
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: ValVannet on April 18, 2010, 10:08:05 PM
The floodwaters from the glacial flood have now receded but have left behind huge chunks of ice on the floodplain  (pic courtesy of ian hardie who was out exploring the area today).  For those who know the area, the image is taken looking south west along the Markarfljot tiver towards Stora Dimon.  It is amazing to think that a number of us stood on top of Stora Dimon last August and listened to Ian's description of an overdue eruption of this volcano and his explanation of the flood defences which were in place for exactly the situation which has arisen in the last few days.
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Judith R on April 18, 2010, 10:13:07 PM
I've put a photo of this area on the ppt I've shared so they can be compared.
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: alc3254 on April 19, 2010, 12:03:27 PM
A song about the Iceland Volcano

Thankyou for everyone's contributions
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Preche on April 19, 2010, 03:28:42 PM
Radio 5 there was a report about how African farmers were being effected by the eruption. Kenyan roses are being stockpiled and workers told to go home.

Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: richardallaway on April 19, 2010, 06:49:51 PM

I have added the Eyjafjallajoekull Eruption / Ash Cloud lesson I produced over the weekend to (free area ;)) here:

I have written about it and added a little reflection here:

I hope somebody finds it useful!

Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: edge on April 19, 2010, 08:35:58 PM
Another volcano song - and tackles the pronunciation issue too! (
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Judith R on April 19, 2010, 10:15:29 PM
Thanks Emma - will have to be quick to avoid the very end bit though!

Just found this which gives the health effects of the ash:
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Judith R on April 19, 2010, 10:26:00 PM
Having spent a bit of time wandering round Icelandic websites as you do, I've found this - it's not got any commentary but could be good for adding one. Shows ash on car, horses etc. There are articles on the BBC website about how animals are being affected which could go with it.
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: ValVannet on April 19, 2010, 10:59:05 PM
This contribution from VolcanIan should have been posted yesterday along with the image he sent   .  It is a most interesting description of the aftermath of the jokulhlaup

After lunch, with cloud over Eykjafjallajökull, I decided to take a run up the Fljótshlið Valley (in the car, not in my Nikes!). The whole valley is deserted with only locals allowed in as stated earlier; this is a very strange feeling. Only one or two vehicles were on the road, farmers working and deploying fodder should there be a crisis in this valley from dust should the wind change. To be driving up valley, towards, Fljótsdalur was impressive, it always is, it is magnificent. Ahead, to the east, was Mýrdalsjökull, a massive 1450m high plateau with its lurking volcano, Katla, beneath. And to the right, to the south, was Eyjafjallajökull, the active volcano. The cloud was low but the enormity of the landscape was stunning; misty, partly screened from view, but ever awesome and supremely raw. All was apparently quiet above at the volcanic site, cloud shrouded. But then, there was the evidence of the jökulhlaups; ice blocks littered the landscape, vast fields of them. They were not gigantic, such was the explosive eruption that had smashed the ice to smithereens but they were everywhere. They came right to the edge of the gravel road at the north side of the valley and indeed crossed it in places (evidence of road rebuilding was seen, keeping an access – or rather egress! – road open to the remotest farms. I had the whole valley to myself, the Markarfljót, the mountains, the valleys, the volcano … and lots and lots of ice; how strange to be almost at the source of an event that was paralyzing vast areas of the Northern Hemisphere and beyond … and to be alone; very special. Many photographs were taken. The ice was either lying as separate lumps of ice (sub rounded in from due to their transport by water), looking a bit like the floor of a gym hall might look if all the footballs, rugby balls, basket balls (i.e. a lot of balls!) were poured out over the floor. Also, there was much fine silt and rock flour deposited on the valley floor, showing ripple marks as at the seaside on a  falling tide. But then there were also vast areas of black ice, silt covered ice, lying all over too; it looked rather like seaweed does after a wild storm along a seashore. It looked dirty, alien, not attractive. It was fascinating to see how it was distributed; you could see how the water of the glacial floods must have flowed too, deposition on the inside of bends and extensive ice “cliffs” on outer bends; it must have been some surge of power. I also had the presence of mind to eat a bit of ice!

Being “trapped” in the sealed off valley is unique; I might actually become a little possessive  of it when the road eventually opens to all!  So, for the moment, I am savouring being so close to the world’s biggest volcanic event of the moment and having it, almost , all to myself; this is unique, unbelievable, incredibly special.

On driving back down valley to my hús (I was frozen; there had been battering showers of hail as I had been walking around the area trying to get the shots – including some little bits of video), I decided to head to Stóra Dímon, a volcanic outcrop in the middle of the lower Markarfljót valley. It is from the summit of Stóra Dímon (178m) that spectacular views can be gained of this braided glacial meltwater river. Huge embankments, the ones that have worked so well and saved the valley thus far, can be seen here. On walking up to one such embankment, again, there was the evidence of the jökulhlaup. Ice and silt were plastered on the embankment’s sides and evidence of its scouring ability could be seen in the form of erosion scars on the sides of Stóra Dímon. It could clearly be seen how high the ice had been pushed up onto the embankment – there must have been some localized “overtopping” in places. I didn’t climb higher; but I made a note that this could be the place to be when the skies clear again and Eyjafjallajökull volcano puts on a show (as long as the wind is not from the east!).
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: ValVannet on April 19, 2010, 11:48:32 PM
Ian has been having some fun with his 'Give Geography its Place T shirt!

Richard, I will certainly find your work useful!  Many thanks for your time and effort.
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Andrew Stacey on April 20, 2010, 02:56:51 PM
I love the GGiP photos, and appreciate the creativity of people in the resources that are now beginning to flow.

There is a fine crop of gobsmacking photos in the Mail today 

The vodafone webcam, no longer live, is almost as useful with its instant archive. I notice today, at 1.00 at least, the ash is being driven east and not south!

The live page on BBC News  gives plenty of anecdotal travel stories but the best blog is still decidedly Ian's!
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: ValVannet on April 20, 2010, 07:14:17 PM
Boston .com Big Picture

This new set is stunning!
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Andrew Stacey on April 20, 2010, 08:32:37 PM
Agreed - the best of a good bunch!
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: gilmoregirl on April 20, 2010, 09:13:19 PM
Just wondered how many staff you have stuck in places around the world atm?

We have 11 out of 80 staff in places such as Egypt, Spain, France, Africa, USA, South America and Greece! Some of our staff have been told it will be the end of next week before they will be returned to home soil at the earliest!
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: HB100 on April 20, 2010, 09:22:02 PM
We have 6 staff

Madeira, Florida, Cyprus, On way back from Spain, Italy and can't remember!!
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: helen on April 20, 2010, 09:26:42 PM
Richard - fab resources- used them this morning - many thanks.
Val - thanks for posting Ian's updates. I find them fascinating.
We have 8 staff stuck abroad. Head of Geog in Cayman Islands was told today that first flight home was 21st May !!!
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: edge on April 20, 2010, 10:29:46 PM
We had five out, noe 4 as one made it back through France.  Mum stuck in Malta, she was told the earliest flight was May 3rd.  A student in Australia told her earliest flight was the 6th - craziness!!

I wondered about the priority of getting certain people back home dependent on the length of this ongoing saga?  Will keyworkers eventually be given priority (Mum's a neonatal nurse which got me thinking about this)?

As I type the web says UK airspace will reopen this evening, apparently planes are now safe to fly through certian densities of ash!
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: ValVannet on April 20, 2010, 10:54:23 PM
Latest from Ian Hardie in Iceland ....

A pic of Thorvalseyri farm (snapped on my first visit to Iceland in 2004) which Ian refers to as well as the sequence of images he took this morning are on


Just about to head to bed last night but decided to brace the cold and take a stroll on deck to see if any ash was yet falling ... NO ... but the top of the volcano was aglow, orange/yellow and with ENORMOUS jets/blocks of magma being hurled into the air, right there, right in front of me. To say I was taken by surprise is a bit of an understatement; this was the first lavas to be seen from this eruption. I could not imagine how huge some of these bombs would be - GINORMOUS; what a show, good grief, this is being in the midst of something very special. I heard a plane overhead, possibly scientists ... or the media ... out to get some AMAZING shots. The lave bombs and fountains were pulsing into the air, with some pauses, lifting slowly, hanging and then falling back to the mountain top. From this viewpoint some of these blocks looked absolutely huge and it was these larger ones that seemed to go up slowest, hover and then descend at a gentle speed, all an illusion, I am sure; to actually be there, at the crater lip (not that anyone would be) would indeed truly be like the gates to Hell.  These huge blocks were the ones that seemed to hold their volcanic glow longest too and whilst the smaller ejecta faded, the yellow/orange luminescence of these mammoth blocks stayed constant as they returned landwards. 

Whilst these major blocks were being ejected, there was a constant spraying of “smaller” pieces around them; it was a bit like looking at a star system in the distant universe through a telescope, the patterns that were seen, all in orange/yellow tones. Sometimes, as like the fountains outside the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas (where they use “grey water” for their spectacular, “signature” show), there were linear sprays to various elevations of the ejected lava; this was dance and most certainly fantastic theatre; my binoculars and eyes were transfixed. And yet, as all through my experiences of this eruption, no sound, it was still a silent movie.

But then it had to be bed, well after midnight, even with a massive, live, active, glowing volcano just up there; I fell asleep instantly (possibly rocked to sleep!).

Up at 07.20 this morning, to a clear sky and the wind still from the NE. Eyjafjallajökull looks sublime this morning in the early morning light. A continuous stream of volcanic emissions is pouring out but to a lesser degree than yesterday afternoon/evening/night. The top of the volcano is black and a huge new crater rim can be seen; the mountain really does look like a volcano now  with its top blasted into a new crater (three craters seemingly). Presently (08.25) the descending volcanic plume is heading south to the area beneath the mountains still. The Westmann Islands can still be seen, not crisply, but quite clear. The forecast is for the wind now to go to the SE; what will this mean? Like all other days, this day has yet to play out …

Well, the wind did change direction and the grey volcanic mist slowly descended down the north and north west flanks of Eyjafjallajökull  and into the Fljótshlið Valley. It was a significant haze but not the thick black clouds endured by the people below the mountain. There was in fact no discernable ash fall, thanks goodness. I took a series of pictures to track the disappearance of Eyjafjallajökull as the hours went by; then it was gone. My nose and mouth masks remain as yet unused.

By mid afternoon (about 15.00) the volcano began to emerge again – yes, a picture was taken! The volcanic cloud shifted back east to the head of the Fjlótshlið Valley, it actually looked quite eerie looking up there (this is where I was on Sunday to take the “ice dropped photos”).

It is now mid evening and all is white; a significant snow fall has lasted about 2 to 3 hours. It has blanketed the valley here. The volcano is now cloud shrouded again so no fireworks tonight, I don’t think – although I will be checking! Tomorrow is forecast to be another glorious sunny day, however, (certainly by afternoon) before returning to more gloomy weather for the rest of this week. With the south road now open again (it has been rebuilt since being bulldozed a few days ago to reduce the jökulhlaup’s pressure on the new bridge) tomorrow may be a day to take the car and travel east to see what can be seen; tomorrow might also be a night to see a grand firework show. Lava is certainly pulsing high out of the very deep crater; everyone is waiting to see if a lava flow will eventually emerge from it.

Below the mountains it is a very sad scene. The farmers have had enough and it must be heartbreaking to see the devastation and to realize the struggle it will be to wrest a living from the land again. In some areas where rain has fallen the fallen ash has set like concrete. One farmer has already given up; how can he possibly grow winter fodder this summer for his livestock next winter; his animals have gone to slaughter, can you magine the pain of this decision. To see Thorvaldseyri farm, a once “picture perfect” farm in recent years (due to its stunning location and glacial backdrop), a shining example of what can be gained from this landscape with effort and ingenuity of determined Icelanders, is so sad today; it is a grey landscape, almost colourless and certainly a  humourless area. Will it recover? Will the will be there to bring it back to life? We can all only hope so.

It is now about 21.00. The clouds are lifting and the Westmann islands are becoming clearer out of my south windows; I hear rain falling now, not snow.  Great slabs of snow are now thumping down on to my deck, a strangely comforting sound; I just love the “elements at work”. Will the cloud lift off the volcano tonight? I can only see its lower snow covered flanks at the moment. So odd to think of what is still going on up there, on the mountain, in the crater. I wonder how high Eyjafjallajökull will become by the end of this eruptive event.

One thought I had today was that at one time there would have been no Eyjafjallajökull at all … until the East Volcanic Zone of the Mid Atlantic Ridge first split apart here, allowing the first foundations of the mountain to form; a staggering thought, a staggering occasion. What was that eruption like? How many have there been? What has been the nature of these previous eruptions?  This eruption is immense enough but as a proportion of the total volume of Eyjafjallajökull it is but a small percentage (well, thus far at least!). Time is such an impossible factor for us to grasp; even stating this and realizing there must have been many volcanic events like this present one in the past – unwitnessed by humans, awesome, when the planet was “alone” – still doesn’t help to gain a grasp of this utterly amazing, stunning, glorious planet we occupy.

Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Plene on April 21, 2010, 09:10:58 AM
I've been stranded in Budapest with a group of 6 students on a Comenius Visit with partners from Turkey Sweden Italy Spain and Portugal. We were due to fly out on Sunday - we eventually arrived home last night after a nearly 30 hour journey. Only the Turkish group managed to get a plane home. We were lucky that our students were staying with families so we had no problems about accommodation. Feel sorry for those with larger groups - very difficult circumstances.
I was surprised that there were very few cars and coaches on the Eurotunnel - i was not fully booked as we should have had a crossing 4 hours later.
Very tired and very pleased that my head does not expect me or the kids into school until tomorrow! :)

OUr cover supervisor is stuck in Spain and our caretaker in Crete - I think there are about 12 children stuck with their families

I've loved reading Ian's reports and can't wait to revisit the country after our superb trip there last summer with SAGT
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: ValVannet on April 21, 2010, 10:37:46 AM
My second year class have just enjoyed a great 20 minute Skype Q and A session with Ian!  How cool is that - volcano over his left shoulder and him in his GGiP T shirt!

This is absolutely how modern technology should be used......
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Alan Parkinson on April 21, 2010, 10:41:01 AM
Hi Val
That sounds like a fab learning experience...
When you next speak to Ian, can you thank him for Creative Commons images he shared, one of which is contained in a little "summary" of some of the resources that is now available on the GA website

Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: fred on April 21, 2010, 03:08:39 PM
 A few Iceland jokes!

It’s a bit early for Iceland volcano jokes. We should wait awhile for the dust to settle.

 I see that America has declared war on Iceland. Apparently they are accusing them of harbouring a “weapon of ash eruption”.

It was the last wish of the Icelandic economy that its ashes be spread over Europe.

Iceland goes bankrupt, then it manages to set itself on fire. This has insurance scam written all over it.

Iceland, we wanted your cash, not your ash.

Waiter, there's volcanic ash in my soup. I know, it's a no-fly zone.

Richard Curtis is working on a new rom-com about people stuck in an airport who fall in love. The working title is "Lava Actually".

I came out my house yesterday and was hit on the head by a bag of frozen sausages, a chocolate gateau and some fish fingers. I realised it must be the fallout from Iceland.

Volcano in Iceland. What next Earthquake in Asda?

Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Kate Russell on April 21, 2010, 04:06:46 PM
Ian's eyewitness accounts are fabulous! Many thanks to Ian for eing our roving reporter and to Val for sharing with us!

The GA has put together a page of suggested resources to support teachers who are responding to requests from students who want to find out more about the eruption. (
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Judith R on April 21, 2010, 04:19:49 PM
It's looking particularly splendid on the webcam this afternoon:
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Plene on April 21, 2010, 04:37:38 PM
facebook link  - Family guy clip - man selling Volcano insurance!
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: ValVannet on April 21, 2010, 11:10:06 PM
VolcanIan has clearly had a most interesting day ....

Val, I had the most AMAZING afternoon today. I gained RT permission
to have flexi hours today as I saw that the forecast gave a "window"
of 4 - 5 hours of brilliant conditions to travel out along the South
Coast road.  Have I got images for you! I was trying to think
geographically as well as photographically; OH MY. I will write my
report tonight - it will be a biggie. I am totally FROTHING with
excitement - I heard it ... I smelt it ... I was "interviewed" by a
Danish Newspaper ... I saw a black Eyjafjallajokull ... and, although
a few locals about, the MASSIVE influx of visitors are no-where yet
to be seen, wonderful.

 And do you know what, I got back to my hus about 17.00 ... the wind
is shifting ... the cloud is down and teh volcano is hid from view

     OK, news to watch, food to eat adn a BIG report to write.
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: kevincooper777 on April 22, 2010, 09:25:29 PM
Being a Housemaster in a boarding school is a tough job - but it's  not been too taxing with 5 students this week  :) (though the e-mail exchanges re setting work for the missing ones and ascertaining when they are each coming back has been a bit of pain)
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: ValVannet on April 23, 2010, 12:21:13 AM
Another first hand report from Ian Hardie out in Iceland....

...and the pics which go along with the story are again on

It all began with a Skype call to the High School of Dundee! Val V had asked if I might do an interactive lesson with her S2 Geography pupils (giving both Geography and IT its place!) at 09.30 UK time … 08.30 Icelandic time; no bother, delighted. All was set up  and many pupils asked very good questions. Interestingly, they all asked question relating to the Icelandic situation, the effects on Icelanders; I was very happy to respond to such sensible, empathetic questions. It was a little frightening, however, to realize that I was being projected bigger than life size on the classroom screen … at 08.30 … with no “BBC make-up”; I hope the pupils survived the trauma!  The volcano was a little cloud covered initially but as I spoke to the HSoD there were plumes emerging from the cloud cap and the volcano was showing it was still active and lively. Inde, as the day went by, the volcano put on a great and growing show again. Of the three new craters two have stopped emitting but the third is … on fire!
As the forecast suggested a “good weather window” today – clear skies, strong N/NE wind – I really wanted to venture east on the “1”. Today was the day to really see new volcanic scenes.... It was so frustrating having to actually drive away from the volcano as I headed to Hvolsvöllur to pick up the “1”; now I know how a dog feels as it heads for “walkies” in the car; the anticipation was exceedingly exciting. But at last (only 10 minutes!), I turned east on to the “1”. WOW, what new views opened up. Having been so “close” to the volcano these last few days (almost with a crick in my neck) it was amazing to gain its broader setting. My eyes swept round from Thríhyrningur to the north, to Tindfjallajökull to the north east, to Mýrdalsjökull to the east and then to absolutely fabulous Eyjafjallajökull to the south east. What an incredible panorama, often seen and appreciated hugely many times before, but there was now a graceful, powerful volcanic plume rising up over Eyjafjallajökull; wonderful, full of wonder, awesome; stunningly beautiful (all icecaps and mountains were white and snow covered, the sky was blue and it was a glorious spring day).

The site of the Markarflót River was immense; it took me by surprise; what a changed place. I was possibly initially more impressed with the huge human efforts that had actually gone on to break the road and to take the pressure of the glacial flood’s waters of the road bridge than the changes in the river’s course. Only now did I realise the incredible effort by hardy Icelanders, working in volcanic eruption conditions, to break the road in four places, to reinforce embankments and to fight against demanding odds to save their transport infrastructure.  There was much ice on the river banks and ayots, black and rotting now; it will soon melt however. The river channel was greatly changed, wide and expansive; hydraulic action must have been colossal.  But the road is now linked again, gravelly and dusty, but strong. The bridge? SAVED.

Then, driving on east – there was little traffic, only a few locals and a very few tourists (only about 3 Yari!) and no tour coaches – the landscape changed. I passed Heimaland, the centre of activity and the police and rescue teams these last few days; many cars were parked outside. But still no sign of volcanic dust. But then I realized, Eyjafjallajökull was black; it would normally be glistening but not today, not for a while. The white cap to the mountain was not there; all looked like rock. And then the dust was there, on the road, in the fields, on the buildings, on the mountains. It wasn’t as thick as I expected and it is actually quite localised. A massive job has been done to clear the roads and quickly. The volcanic dust is slippery when dry and triply slippery when wet; like a skating rink I am told. So, road clearance was a high priority. But when looking up the farm roads, they were still black and slithery to drive.

Many stops were made to view and to take photographs. There was guilt in both these activities, this was someone’s personal economic disaster.  I have even heard that the farmer in Thórvaldseyri is to give up farming; this is awful, dreadful, desperately sad; I hope it is not true, or at least, that it is only a temporary stoppage. Fields were black but there was still a lot more grass/vegetation sticking through than I thought I’d see. Will they be able to recover? Time … and weather … and what the volcano does next will determine this. Some farmers are busy using their plough pulled rakes to try to spread the ashfall thinner and to break it up to allow the grass to survive; what a mess, what a trial, what a challenge.  So, on east along the “1”. Farms often looked deserted. No livestock outside, of course. Even sheep that had begun to graze outside after the winter are back indoors again with the barns being made as dustproof as possible (on TV you see grey sheep, their white fleeces ash filled; sheep cannot be moved out of the area, unlike cattle/horses; all sheep belong to a “district” and are not allowed to move between districts as part of disease control; they must stay put and wait it out). Seljavellir and Thórvaldseyri have the greatest dust fall. There is a little colour left in the landscapes and farmscapes but it is generally a sooty scene.

I stopped at Thórvaldseyri. The scene here really sums up the impact upon the “people below the mountain”. Getting out of the car, two new senses were awakened that had so far been absent in this volcanic event – smell and sound.  The sound was deep, booming, not constant but intermittent but it sure did tell you that the volcano was in charge here; it sounded throaty. And the smell? Imagine a tyre store, that rubbery smell, not pleasant, not unpleasant; a bit like burnt rubber. Or a bicycle puncture repair outfit; stick your nose into that and you begin to get an idea of what it was like. Moderately strong, not overwhelming, not unnoticeable; persistent.  

I progressed slowly to Skógafoss. The sun was still strong and the rainbows were OUTRAGEOUS. A heavy volcanic dust fall had accumulated here and the outflow river was dark volcanic grey. The backwall of the waterfall would have been entirely black were it not for the blasted snow (that’s blasted snow … not blasted snow!); quite a sight. And the best bit was that I had it all to myself; this was so excellent. And above, the column of rising dust cloud; awesome. I took many photos here but no photograph can ever do justice to the sublime beauty, nature, forces seen and felt here today.

Nothing daunted – and despite an almost total absence of people and vehicles - I thought I’d go take a look at Sólheimajökull. The weather was continuing to be perfect. There was evidence of ashfall on Mýrdalsjökull and on the glacier. The gravel road in was quite black and also damp and thus slithery. I went perhaps 80% of the way in but the thought of being stuck here was not enticing me any further, sometimes you just know the limits that are wise. I turned and headed back to the “1” (but not without taking some awesome pic, always looking for “that picture”).

Lots of stops on the way back too; glorious views to the volcano from the “261” on way back to my hús.  And, on arriving home at about 17.00, the cloud came in, the volcanic plume entered the Flotshlið Valley and the volcano was lost from view from then and all this evening; honestly, I am not making this up, what a truly golden 4 hours.

It seems very unlikely that access to the actual volcanic site will be allowed in the near future. At all times in this event it has been totally uppermost at all times that the Police, the Rescue Teams and the Authorities want to saves lives, first and foremost. Locals have responded magnificently and trusted those whose charge it is to look after the souls in their community; the praise give to those whose job it is to keep the communities secure has been fulsome and heartfelt. Thorsmörk too looks “out” for a long time too – first they have to find the road! It is thus to be hoped that thrill seekers pay heed to all warnings; this is an awesome volcano, it isn’t finished yet, there are dangers to the unwary, nature remains in control.

I do hope that I am able to share all of this, eventually (and much more lucidly), and with pictures too, with those who want to see, to listen, but most of all, to feel it. This volcanic episode has been, for me, about emotions, feelings, community, spirit, resolve, support, sharing. Yes, it has offered amazing images (no doubt some earning vast sums around the world in Press Rooms and the like -  not mine), they are indeed spectacular. But this is not about good pictures, for them you basically just have to ”point and shot”. Much more it is all about the many stories and situations of the local people, caught up in a real life drama, working together, thinking of eachother, surviving. Very draining but in ways gaining too; the economically battered community of Iceland now has a very different additional challenge to face, of a type better understood, no less daunting, of a type not unknown in the past - Áfram Ísland!
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Kate Russell on April 23, 2010, 01:36:41 PM
Interesting report and photos of the impact from Iceland's point of view, from The Reyjavik Grapevine (
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: john-s on April 23, 2010, 05:11:26 PM
Here are some awesome daily time-lapses from a webcam situated near Eyjafjallajökull:

Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: ValVannet on April 25, 2010, 10:45:07 AM
Those daily time lapses are really good.

Below is Ian Hardie's latest up-date.  Given that Ihave flights booked for early July, I am really pleased to read that this eruption doesn't look like ending anytime soon!

As before, the images which accompany Ian's report can be accessed from  All of the eruption ones are in a set which can be navigated to via Places. Europe, Iceland


Well after yesterday (what a DAY), the volcano has been a bit more tranquil (but everything is relative … just wait till I get to the end of this little update!). There was a strong north wind most of Thursday (Iceland’s “First Day of Summer”, a National Holiday) but there was also thick cloud so the volcano “wasn’t there” again. Thursday saw the very cheering sight, however, of 00’s and possibly 000’s of migrating birds returning to the South Iceland; many flew over my upstairs window, very close, what a wonderful sound as well as sight, not only the sound of their calls but also of their massed “wing flapping”; magical. Greylag and Pink Footed geese, swans; I wonder how these birds were/are affected by volcanic ash? Did they delay departure from the UK till their inbuilt senses told them it was OK to leave? Or will they be suffering from the inhalation of dust, either in the short term or the longer term; this doesn’t bear thinking about; how will this year’s breeding season go? I saw many birds today (Saturday) in the brown fields of the South, eating what they could to replace spent calories; can you believe the distances these birds travel. As I drove out the valley this morning (Sat), heading for Selfoss, one bird kept pace with the car at 60kmph. But I also saw many oyster catchers by the side of the road today (Sat); they didn’t move as I drove by; were they in some way affected by the dust in the air? Were they simply exhausted? They certainly weren’t their usual lively selves.

The good news from the Thórvalseyri farm on Thursday was that the farmer may not be able to farm this summer, maybe even not in 2011, but he seems likely to “try again” eventually; the whole country is behind this farmer, a wonderful man.  I think he represents the Icelandic character, “if something is wrong we simply get on and fix it”; everyone is willing him on to do just that. I wonder how he is feeling as people now drive by his farm, stop, look, take pictures; is he angry to such peoples’ actions? Resigned to them? Or understanding of them? I think I know which one of these will be his thoughts, he’ll understand.

At the end of Thursday the cloud cover of the day disappeared and the volcano loomed again – it really can “loom”, depending on the light air quality, it really can be “just there”; it is a magnificent mountain (at 1,666m).  Again, before turning to bed, I took a look at the volcano – wow, awesome, a red glow again from the summit. So, up with the binoculars and there was a brilliant light show again from 23.00 onwards. The active crater is deep now so the glow was not too high above the mountain top. Also, the ejected lava bombs were not travelling far above the volcano ‘s summit (having already come up about 200m from the magma lake). However, some large blocks were seen and, amazingly, they seemed to hang in the air for ages – I counted (as I do for the one minute trick at Skógafoss –aha!), 1 second, 2 seconds, 3 seconds, 4 seconds, 5 seconds, 6 seconds, 7 seconds … and only then did the massive lava bombs (blocks) begin to descend. We have ABSOLUTELY no idea of the power of nature; this is fantastic. It is enormous energy that is being released on this mountain. But, to bed it had to be … with my own “wee glow”.

On Friday the 23rd the wind was from the S and east most of the day (giving some relief to those “below the mountain”). This meant, however, that for the first time, the west of the country was gaining sight of the volcanic dust cloud (over Selfoss, Reykjavík and the Reykjanes Peninsula). Keflavík Airport was shut down (imagine the travellers, the headaches, the challenges … but absolutely no chaos … what do I keep saying about Iceland and Icelanders!) and any international flights into/out of Iceland were through Akureyri (that “very nice place” in the north of the country, about a 4-5 hour coach journey from Reykjavík). Glasgow also took on the role of Icelandair’s hub airport for the duration. So imagine flying from Glasgow to Iceland; normally a flight of less than 2 hours but, for the moment, a 2½ flight plus a 5 hour coach journey!

The volcanic dust caused a haze everywhere in the Fljótshlið Valley and the volcano was a weak silhouette of its substantial self. Heimaey too was lost from view. When the volcano’s plume could be seen, it looked rather lie the emerging steam from cooling towers at an oil refinery, thick and columnar, white and rising to quite a height.

During the day on Friday the first ash fall dropped on to my hús. It was only a light, gritty dusting on the roof and on the decking but it was, sorry, all rather exciting. It was dark grey in colour and looked rather like the test tube of iron filings you used to get in a Chemistry Set (ah, Chemistry Sets!). I have yet to look at it under a hand lens to see its nature.

Today, Saturday, has been a beautiful day of early summer weather, clear skies (well, they should have been) and sunny (well, it should have been) and fresh (it certainly was!). But the strong wind was from the east and was blowing all the ash to the west, to the Fljótshlið Valley; ekki gott. Visibility and haze were really quite thick with the whole mountainscape to the east being lost from view. Dust fall was much more marked. Even a few moments outside and your face and hair felt gritty. My west gutters were filling up deliciously, however, with volcanic dust – this has now been scooped up and fills 4 x 454g sized jam jars as well as a 2 litre “Comfort” bottle! I do hope this proves to be financially lucrative! I’ll bet there are already artists in the country now involving such dust in their works (as well as possibly having it on their works!).

I spent the day in Selfoss and environs; visit Eyarbakki, a wonderful traditional little village (fishing now abandoned). It was odd to see the shape of the volcanic dust cloud with its fairly distinct line between clear and hazy. In one café I was in (always talk to Icelanders, you always learn something of great interest)  the chap behind the counter talked a bit and said that he lived in Hvolsvöllur and that his father was a policeman. Ah, I said, did you once live in Fljótshlið and then move in to Hvolsvöllur? Yes. Ah, well I know your father then; sometimes we are at the swimming pool at the same time. Well, this chap said, my father was in the Rescue Team helicopter a day or two ago, landed “up there” and he brought back some lumps of fresh lava (a policeman’s lot can sometimes be a very fortunate one indeed!); the policeman’s son thought this very cool (in a hot sort of way); so did I (in a very envious sort of way!). Amazing to think, he said, that this is some of the newest rock on Earth and I can hold it in my hands – wow. As I have said before, from 4.6 billion years ago to now – wow.

But this evening, Saturday evening, a wonderful development. I had watched the 19.00 News and saw all the reports about the eruption’s latest behaviour. I had no-one to translate but I go the gist of what was going on and how things were progressing. I thought I heard word of a lava flow moving, somewhere; this was exciting – oh to see a live, moving (preferably slowly!) lava flow, please! Just after the News, Samuel called to ask about my day and to ask if I had heard the News. Did I know that a lava flow is now thought to be moving down on to the Thórsmörk side of Eyjafjallajökull, underneath Gigjökull; mega wow! And then (again, honestly) I said to Samuel, wait a moment, what is that noise I am hearing? OH WOW, it is the volcano. The wind had eased, all had gone quiet and there it was, deep, muffled booming, no mistake, this was the volcano, this was the noise that the people below the mountains, on the south side, have been hear for the last 9 days or so; oh my goodness, what bass sounds, what deep seated energy. It sounded like thunder but more regular and continuous. It began at about 19.45 and it is still continuing (presently about 23.00); just what is going on up here? Something BIG; there will be much to learn tomorrow once the scientists have done a recce (if possible) and they have interpreted their instrumentation; what a thrill ride they must be on! Over? This eruption? Not by a long way; there is a lot to readjust in nature before this particular chapter in the creation of Iceland’s landscapes is over.

NOTE: a great website for more scientific information (but accessible) about the eruption (as well as some fantastic pictures taken by the monitoring scientists, not journalists) is to be found on the website of Iceland’s Institute of Earth Sciences (this is where Magnús Tumi works); the website is There is an English version so click its tab on the top bar and then simply roam around. Do not save the thumbnails of the picture, copy the bigger version; right click on thumbnail and then click “open link” and this will give you a “big picture”, save this; then you can simply scroll through and save all the pictures, for free, it’s outrageous!

OK, I have had sight of, I have had smell of and I now have sound of the volcano; do I now go for taste of a volcano? That dust looks awfully tempting! Perhaps not! But, oh my goodness, I cannot wait till it will be possible to go and have touch of the volcano! Can you imagine the wonders of new landscapes that are up there to be enjoyed? I just cannot wait. Just what is it like there now with … the magma … the ice … the battleground. It is still totally thumping away, angrily, menacing. But no glow to be seen tonight (23.11) ; good, I can now go to bed!
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Judith R on April 25, 2010, 10:54:49 AM
What a fantastic description. We are so privileged to have these accounts to read. Thanks again to Ian and Val for posting them.

I've been using Iceland Review - they update stories several times a day (but not as good as Ian's!).
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: ValVannet on April 26, 2010, 10:30:30 AM
Another fantastic 'read' from Ian Hardie...

Pics up shortly on


Well, today began with a “boom-bang-a-bang” just after midnight (as mentioned in the last update) … and ended the same way; what a day yet again; stunning. In bed last night the deep rumblings continued (no jokes please) and the sound of the volcano was very clear to hear (and slightly feel); what a way to be lulled into sleep (it took about 5 seconds).

On wakening and looking out (always firstly to the east these days) it was a very overcast day; little did I realize then what a fantastic afternoon of volcanic experiences it would turn out to be. The wind was very light and the ash was no longer being blown over the Valley (and thus towards my hús); this was a relief. It had been wet overnight so I was very glad to have collected my oven dry (!) volcanic dust (just think where it was just a few days ago – yes, way down there in the magma chamber, in the mantle; wow).The noises were by now inaudible from here but no doubt were continuing.

Eyjafjallajökull was looking very grey and black in places as a result of yesterday’s ash fall; this was saddening as usually it has a startlingly pristine white upper half (from about 900m and upwards to its summit). I had seen the south side of the mountain around about Thórvaldseyri Farm last Wednesday blackened by ash and dust but now the whole icecap was losing its “light”. “Eyjafjallajökull” means “island mountain icecap” – how long have I been waiting to tell someone this!; this name is given since sometimes the whole mountain can seem to hover, suspended above the surrounding valley floor, especially at times of low fog in the valley or when dust storms blow in from the sandur (outwash plain) to the south.

I was hopeful of the cloud cover lifting in order to get a good photograph of the grey icecap but this was not to happen today, just too cloudy. However, the icecap would recover and possibly quite quickly (in fact, even after this afternoon’s and evening’s rains, the whiteness seems to be returning). But how I now really comprehend tephra-chronology and how ice cores from glaciers and ice sheets can reveal so much about many aspects of earth science; it is all happening now, out there, to be appreciated, just look, realize and appreciate it all; wonderful. Layers of ash trapped after an eruption (oops, another deep volcanic boom just now – 21.17) are then covered by the following winter’s snows and there they remain; what other “data” lies stored in Eyjafjallajökull, bar-coded, in black and white, yet to be analysed?

My plan for the afternoon was to take a trip to Stóra Dímon to view the Markarfljót River and see its discharge. With the now thought to be advancing lava flow beneath Gigjökull (can you imagine!) there is a constant input of meltwater to the river system that the Authorities are monitoring; all seems steady and under control; no more jökulhlaups are expected. But all this changed with a ‘phone call from Samuel; Ian, do you fancy taking a trip up the Valley, to Stóra Dímon but perhaps also we can go further in, as far as is allowed? OH YES! So, at about 14.30 we set off with flasks (no, not of the “hip” type!) and chocolate biscuits to go up valley. We had heard that the road might be closed to Stóra Dímon but, as we approached, it was not fenced off; however, it seemed that we could go all the way to Fljótsdalur … so we left SD for the return journey; this was incredibly exciting. The volcanic booming returned, the scenery was magnificent (totally wilderness awesome and empty) and we were both very excited at the chance to nip in and maybe get some good sights of Gigjökull; this was an un-thought of mega bonus, that’s for sure. We reached Fljótsdalur, no barriers; we got to the river crossing, ah, there was a Rescue Team’s super-jeep, this may be the end of the road, that’s a pity. Photos were taken looking towards Gigjökull and the volcano (hidden in the low cloud). The volcano was really loud, real “basso profundo” (must have something in its throat!). Samuel then asked the rescue people could we go in further. Yes, be careful, there is a lot of dust falling, but yes, be quick, don’t linger. Indeed the dust was very noticeable … in a brilliant way; we soon looked like two coal delivery men, awesome! And my car was like the coal lorry – who cares, this was living!

So then it was across the small river on this side of the Valley – wide but not too deep – and then onward and inward (no, not yet upward; soon I hope!). Even without a live volcano on your right - booming, booming - this is an amazing place. Ahead lies Mýrdalsjökull and it spilling glaciers. This rough road – many bits washed out by the big jökulhlaup of the first break-out – was a thrilling drive.  

But then disaster, on a grand scale; my camera stopped working; can you imagine! So much dust and ash in the air, of course; I just hadn’t thought. The camera tried to open but did so with a gritty grinding and then closed again. I couldn’t believe my stupidity. I tried and tried but it was no use. In desperation, but keeping calm (it’s the being here, not the pictures, I kept saying to myself – aye, right), I tweaked and teased the lens as it tried to extend and before it retracted again; I used a clean tissue to clean the lens as it extruded a little bit but to no avail. I persisted, this was desperate; no joy.

And, do you know, my little Pentax Optio (much maligned by myself on many occasions) was suddenly back in action; waves of relief; I could record the scenes after all. I do not exaggerate this desperate situation, trust me; my camera could have been considered a “goner” but, hey, I may not be Icelandic (yet) but I am a Scot; thank you Robert the Bruce and that persistent spider! There were a few further worrying moments but I took much better care of wee Optio after this and all was well for the rest of the day. Again, can you imagine … !

The valley narrowed (still massively wide); we were very much alone; we were heading to be the closest people ON THE PLANET to the volcano (and possibly the maddest; blimey, I think I am becoming even more like an Icelander, excellent!). Many stops were made to capture the atmosphere (not too tricky to achieve – we were blackening further by the minute!). The power of the jökulhlaup could really be seen. As well as the washed out sections of road (rebuilt quickly to let the Authorities in to monitor things), massive areas were strewn with blocks of ice, some white and glistening, others black and ominous looking. One flood barrier (they have been so amazingly successful – astounding to think that the plan to progressively build them began in 1901) had been clearly overtopped; it had a great swathe of deposited ice, rock, silt, rock flour, volcanic ash ... and some now very azonal vegetation. But these barriers had most definitely saved much (and perhaps many).

We drove on further; this is real Iceland, you’ve just go to experience it, it is staggeringly beautiful and wondrous to be amongst, always, anytime, any weather. The road had been reconstructed in recent days, bulldozed through an ice field. At one of our stops we were passed by the Logreglan (police) car; I nodded as they went by, hoping they wouldn’t stop and say, hello,hello, hello, what do you think you two are up to then; they just nodded back! Ah, Iceland, Icelanders, that’s the attitude! It turned out that they were heading to relocate the “Lokað” barrier. We followed but stopped before reaching the police car, where they were erecting the barrier, thinking to be discreet and not push our luck. The police then headed back down the valley and we were … alone … with the BOOMING and blooming volcano, to ourselves, in the most magnificent, overwhelming majesty of this huge glacio-volcanic landscape. I am having so many magical, special, unique, unsurpassable “moments” these weeks!

Once the police had gone out of sight, off we set  … in the opposite direction … in further … up the valley to their barrier and then out on to a long embankment, thus gaining a direct, face-on view to Myrdalsjökull, to Thórsmörk and to Gigjökull, the source of the jökulhlaup. The 360 degree panorama was spellbinding; silence other than the volcanic rumblings. If you ever wished to be in a place to understand and appreciate Iceland’s nature and formative forces, THIS WAS IT.  A couple of other vehicles did appear, one with what looked like four crazies who lingered little and left quickly (superb) and then another that I think was a Frettabladið newspaper crew (as I saw this evening on their website a picture of the barrier just erected by the police). They too left quickly, job done! Again, it was only us and the volcano and the sublime nature, everywhere.

Many pictures (and video clips) later, we turned, blackened, heartened, enlivened; I don’t know how often I said, “This is amazing”. What an awesome time.

Back home then? No, of course not! Back down the track, more pictures (these are such transient scenes that I want to capture as much as I can – on “film” and in my head) and across the river once again; we had nipped in, nipped out and made it. The rescue team’s vehicle had gone. A saloon car with journalists and a guide (from Eastern Europe) had replaced them; they were loving it all too (but we knew who had the better pictures!). After taking in some flask soup, some coffee and some chocolate biscuits it was off to Stóra Dímon.

There was certainly a considerably greater volume of water flowing in the Markarfljót today than last Sunday, deep grey, murky water. That lava flow beneath Gigjökull certainly was melting a lot of ice. The ice built up on the banks of the embankments and seen last Sunday had all but gone but, caught in a back eddy, was floating rock, pumice! Two small plastic bags plus another Comfort bottle were filled with the small pumice pebbles; even more for Ebay!

And then, back home. What an afternoon; unplanned, unpredicted, unsurpassable. The car was filthy (it’ll wash), we were filthy (showers and Redox can work wonders), our memory banks were full to overflowing (and nothing will remove this, I am delighted to say).
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Alan Parkinson on April 26, 2010, 02:47:57 PM
Amazing stories and images...
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Judith R on April 26, 2010, 11:22:56 PM
Totally different tonight!
Nice and clear, with a distict glow seen on this webcam:

and some mini lava plumes on this one!

So exciting!
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: ValVannet on April 27, 2010, 09:25:27 PM
A number of associated resources from BGS here  including a make your own Eyjafallajokull volcano!
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Andrew Stacey on April 28, 2010, 08:17:01 AM
Thanks so much for the link to the volcano model! Thanks also, Val, for passing on Ian's wonderful account of his volcano-watching. His freshness of expression has made him into a far more influential witness than even the TV reporters with their sound-bites! A star has been born!

Will try the model on the unwashed this morning!

Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: meg on April 28, 2010, 04:51:49 PM
Brilliant lesson - making volcano model whilst hearing Ian's account from Sunday read out - tried it out with one class yesterday will repeat again on Friday. Finished models on a table outside Geog Room have created much interest today - real life Geography. Many staff and pupils stopping to read displays/ look at photos including a copy of yesterday's  Scottish Sun article re volcanoes.

Thanks so much to all for links, photos etc.
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: annelogie on April 28, 2010, 08:43:45 PM
On Channel 4 on Sunday [2 May] at 10pm - the Volcano that stopped Britain. Repeated on Monday at 2.20pm
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: ValVannet on April 30, 2010, 10:14:54 PM
Some excellent close up video footage of the main crater emitting lava explosions which cause shock waves in the ash plume
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: zyxwvut on May 01, 2010, 08:07:04 AM
More Iceland volcano related articles-

'Disasters are about people and planning, not nature’s pomp': (

A world without planes: (
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Andrew Stacey on May 02, 2010, 07:51:28 AM
Sunday is a fine morning in Iceland - and the volcano is emitting a strong steam column on the northern flank of Eyjafjallajökull. I noticed it in the bad weather, but now you can see the source as under the outlet glacier, hence the steam.It also explained to me the high volumes of meltwater coming through in the lower picture to the Markarfljót River.

Wish we had that weather in East Anglia -grey, wet and cold!

Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Judith R on May 02, 2010, 08:58:40 AM
Oh yes - thanks for that Andrew. Fabulous clear views (oh to be in Iceland!).
I love all the different moods and colours depending on the nature of the eruption, time of day, weather, sunlight etc.
Good contrasts on the other webcams:

A good day for marking here (and getting stuff growing at last!).
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Judith R on May 02, 2010, 10:39:27 AM
There's a man on his phone on this one - don't think he realises he's being watched!

Got a couple of screen shots of him - it could be a really good exercise - what is he saying?

I've put a ppt 'Iceland volcano update' on my 4shared with various bits and pieces that might be useful including this morning and the fireworks the other night.
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Andrew Stacey on May 02, 2010, 03:48:17 PM
I saw the man arrive, Judith. Walked up and down, took off his wooly hat, and talked to his mobile as he walked up and down. Did he know he was on camera - surely yes - although he seemed oblivious to it!
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Judith R on May 02, 2010, 04:30:36 PM
I'm not sure he did, until he suddenly stood and faced the camera and then walked off very quickly - in my head I had the whole story worked out - whoever he was talking to was looking at the webcam and told him so he scarpered. I think I probably need to get a life.
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Victoria on May 02, 2010, 08:05:18 PM
Not much happening (yet...) but there is a Katla webcam here
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: ValVannet on May 04, 2010, 12:52:33 PM
I am not sure whether viewers 'south of the border' got Sally Magnusson's programme last night.  Planes, Volcanoes and the Truth went out on BBC Scotland at 8.30.  Link to iPlayer is here

Have just found out it was Scotland only.  Why?!!!!!
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: ValVannet on May 05, 2010, 09:46:38 AM
How the volcano chaos unfolded  - in graphics

And from Iceland Review today (good to see that the Icelanders can laugh at their own expense)

1. It’s a bit early for Iceland volcano jokes. We should wait awhile for the dust to settle.
2. I see that America has declared war on Iceland. Apparently they are accusing them of harbouring a “weapon of ash disruption”.
3. It was the last wish of the Icelandic economy that its ashes be scattered over Europe.
4. Iceland goes bankrupt, then it manages to set itself on fire. This has insurance scam written all over it.
5. "Waiter, there's volcanic ash in my soup.”   “I know, sir, it’s a no-fly zone”
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Judith R on May 05, 2010, 11:46:52 AM
I love that Icelanders can make jokes which are a play on words in English! We can't even pronounce the name of the volcano properly.
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: ValVannet on May 06, 2010, 07:05:39 PM
Images showing that the volcano's activity is intensifying
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: john-s on May 07, 2010, 07:07:48 AM
Here's a link to the daily-updated volcanic activity report from the Icelandic Met Office:
(main update every evening)

and a link to a continuously updated map of recent earthquakes in the area:
(Myrdalsjokull is the name of the gletcher that covers Katla)
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Andrew Stacey on May 10, 2010, 07:38:16 AM
It is easy to see the ash problem from this morning's images from the webcam. From the close-up of the drainage, it would appear no great ice melt is involved, either.
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Kate Russell on May 10, 2010, 02:34:16 PM
Download this template to make a colour printed 3D model of the Icelandic volcano (
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: ValVannet on May 11, 2010, 09:51:47 AM
Wonderful views today from completely cloudless skies (apart from the ash!)
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Judith R on May 11, 2010, 05:37:54 PM
..and there's plenty of ash at the moment!
It was stunning last night (about 11.30 here) - the setting sun was lighting up the ash cloud so it was glowing orange. Truly awesome!
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Andrew Stacey on May 11, 2010, 06:35:01 PM
I'm looking at at 16.36.

Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Judith R on May 11, 2010, 06:45:31 PM
So am I!
(yesterday I was asked if I watch 'Britains' Got Talent' or just volcanoes! The answer is mostly the volcano.).

Looking back over screenshots I did a week or so ago it's changed so much - very little snow now visible under all the ash.
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Andrew Stacey on May 11, 2010, 06:55:31 PM
I had not realised met office has a plume animation  Pity it does not cover a wider area, but interesting.
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Judith R on May 12, 2010, 06:15:00 PM
Fab footage from Monday when it was such a lovely clear evening.
The webcams are great, but this shows the lava etc.
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: ValVannet on May 15, 2010, 09:09:48 PM
Loads of good info on the Met Office website which now has a whole section devoted to the eruption

I spent a wonderful evening in VolcanIan's company last night - looked at hundreds of images, listened to his tales and gratefully received a jar of Eyafjallajokull ash! (Very dust-like until you look at it under a magnifying glass when you can see how every particle is a 'shard'. )  I thanked Ian on behalf of the SLN community for his regular 'up-dates' and said how much we had all enjoyed reading them. 

Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Andrew Stacey on May 15, 2010, 11:44:30 PM
Glad to hear Ian 'made it out' ... and envious of your evening of slides. His reports did indeed give so many pleasure and enlightenment. I saw an advert for ash on 'Iceland Review' and they wanted 24 Euros for a jar!

I didn't realise that has a real-time infra-red image to match the visual image above (Forward Looking Infra Red or FLIR). I also didn't realise that clicking on the map below gave you access to the mappig of the whole of Iceland, and in places like the Vestmannaeyjar - to house numbers on maps with OS Landline accuracy! A lovely, but entirely accidental, find ... and a source of pleasure for a number of hours!
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: ValVannet on May 16, 2010, 08:18:26 AM
The map coverage is a real bonus - well spotted, Andrew!

Re the ash, Ian did tell me I was getting 'gold dust' but added that apparently all revenue raised from selling Eyjafjallajokull ash is to help fund rescue services in the country ....not to redress the country's budget deficit!
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Judith R on May 16, 2010, 06:28:47 PM
Glad you mentioned the map Andrew - I kept meaning to. It really helps to put the picture together to know where the webcams are - I had some completely the other side in my mind!
It's been a good way of teaching about wind direction etc - match up the webcam and the map and work out which way it's going.
News reports today say that it has quietened down - last night there was quite an impressive cloud.
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Judith R on May 16, 2010, 06:32:48 PM
"American photographer Sean Stiegmeier traveled to Iceland earlier this month to shoot his own pictures of the eruption in Eyjafjallajökull because all the other pictures he had seen were “mediocre.” The outcome is “epic,” as one viewer commented."

Only 2 minutes, but definitely epic! Anyone know more about the plane that's shown?
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Andrew Stacey on May 16, 2010, 08:01:22 PM
Strong video indeed. The aircraft is a DC-3 (C-47 in US military service) and looks as if it has been used for target practice by the locals!
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: ValVannet on May 16, 2010, 09:45:52 PM
Ash cloud  'could cause disruption in the UK for 20 years' .  Yikes!!
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Judith R on May 19, 2010, 06:15:33 PM
You can download a report from the Farmers Association of Iceland about the effects on agriculture here:
It is in English!
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Andrew Stacey on May 20, 2010, 10:38:19 AM
Thanks Judith. The webcam has been immensely atmospheric of late... when it hasn't been blotted out by the ash coming straight for it!
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: ValVannet on May 20, 2010, 02:12:03 PM
I absolutely agree, Andrew.   Today offers such a contrast with taken two days ago. 
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Andrew Stacey on May 20, 2010, 04:48:42 PM
Thanks Val. I also notice that the rocks in the foreground of have lost their shiny lustre and sharp edges; they are getting buried in ash! Up till the last couple of days I would have been content to sit on that hillside with a pair of binoculars - but not now!
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: ValVannet on May 22, 2010, 11:39:20 PM
A link to some amazing video footage and still images forwarded by VolcanIan today   Probably the best I've seen to date.
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Blue Square Thing on May 22, 2010, 11:49:11 PM
Steinar Hugi has a number of really quite interesting images in his Flickr stream - (the landscape set ( in particular). Incredibly talented.

I like this one very, very much, although unfortunately it's copyrighted.

( (
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Andrew Stacey on May 22, 2010, 11:50:58 PM
Thanks to you, Val and Ian. Stunning movies and images - that has certainly given me an education!
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Judith R on May 23, 2010, 04:55:41 PM
Two women sitting enjoying their picnic at the moment!
Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: fiona f on May 23, 2010, 08:49:39 PM
Latest news

Title: Re: Iceland Volcanic Eruption
Post by: Andrew Stacey on May 24, 2010, 07:38:29 AM
Yes, the webcams show little going on, and the good-quality cam at has been off the air. There have been no recent earthquakes in the area, except one, which is under ..... Katla!