Another Volcanic Eruption Belches Smoke over Iceland


This is a Hipmunk guest post from Jodi Ettenberg

After last April’s eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjalajökull volcano, millions of travelers were stranded from canceled flights due to the ash floating across Europe’s airspace. This week, another (slightly easier to pronounce) volcano in Iceland has erupted. After 7 years of relative inactivity, Grímsvötn burst back to the stage, shooting a huge plume of smoke 11 miles skyward. Already, dozens of flights have been canceled, but aviation experts expect that the fallout from the eruption will be less severe than last year when airspace was closed for over 6 days. Despite being relatively unaffected by the eruption in North America, it does give us an excuse to post this wondrous photo from NASA of the volcano from above:


If that photo wasn’t enough, check out this incredible video from Jon Gustafsson taken from a helicopter. I found the video on the Bad Astronomy blog and it’s certainly worth reposting here. With severe, constant lightening and the giant cloud of smoke billowing upward, it looks like Lord of the Rings’ Mordor as I would imagine it.

Volcanic Eruption in Grimsvotn, Iceland May 21 2011 from Jon Gustafsson on Vimeo.

Says Jon Gustafsson on his Vimeo page:

It took us 90 minutes to fly to Grímsvötn with a strong wind against us. The eruption looked magnificent in the sunset. Once we landed 5 miles away from the crater the cold glacier air hit us like a truck. We tried to work outside but I only lasted for a couple of minutes. Pilot Reynir Petursson also didn’t want to stay on the ground for too long since it was very windy and the ash fall was unpredictable. The light was also disappearing and he needs visual reference which is difficult on a white glacier […]Getting hit by lightning in that strong wind, extreme frost and next to a live volcano was not desirable. We made it back to Reykjavik at 2am.

For more incredible photos from the eruption, head on over to In Focus – they’ve curated close to 2 dozen from Grímsvötn. You can see them here. Big Picture has also put up their own set of eruption photos, different ones from In Focus and also worth a look.

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