Since late March 2010, southern Iceland’s “junior” volcano beneath the Eyjafjallajokull glacier has been spewing tonnes of volcanic material throwing air traffic though Europe to chaos and threatening to cause long term damage to the environment and weather not only in Iceland but to far flung areas in Western Europe and possibly the rest of the world. Few stats about this volcano and volcanic eruptions in general:
1. The last eruption was in 1821 and lasted for about two years. That time it spewed a lot of fluoride..which did not cover the upper atmosphere as much but had damaging results for organic life forms around.
2.Almost all past eruptions of Eyjafjallajokull have been followed by subsequent eruptions of its might brother, the giant Katla volcano.
3. If Katla too erupts, and ejects 10 million or more tons of sulphur dioxide..then global freezing may start as early within next 2 years. Currently Eyjafjallajokull alone is spewing 3000 tonnes of volcanic material per day (most sulphur dioxide) and shows no signs of slowing down.
4. The volcanic ash, which is extremely fine had a lower melting point than the interior of a jet plan engine. So when a plane passes through this ash, it gets in liquid molten state, seeps through the engine and gets solidified on the turbines where the temperature is much less. This solid glass like surface affects air flow and drastically reduce the thrust apart from permanently shutting down the engines.
5. Once this ash settles on Earth it will endanger the lungs of children, asthmatics and others with respiratory ailments.
6. The ash from the eruption has spread around the world quite quickly, within a few days and will cause the average temperature of the Earth to go down by one degree. If Katla too erupts, and the eruption continues for a long time, then Earth might be forced into another Ice age, causing permanent extinction of thousands of species.
7. Around 70,000 years ago, a volcano in Indonesia, Mount Toba had a big eruption which caused six year long winters followed by an Ice Age. Resulting environmental changes caused a near extinction of the human species.
8. Another fallout of continued volcanic eruptions: Acid Rains. The ash might mix with water vapour in the upper atomoshere, causing the sulphur dioxide in it to mix with water condensing and falling as acid rain on Earth.
One possible cause which might have triggered this Icelandic volcano can be the recent series of Earthquakes around the world (Haiti, Chile, Turkey, China and many others). Looks like the Poles have finally started reversing!