Volcano in Iceland Stops Air Traffic

National Geographic answers the question, “Why Iceland’s volcanoes have vexed humans for centuries?”

Witze says that Iceland’s volcanoes have affected human communities for more than a thousand years and that Bárđarbunga is responsible for the largest eruption anywhere on Earth in the last 10,000 years.

Some of the most famous ones in the last couple of decades have been Surtsey, a brand-new island that rose from the waves off the southern coast in 1963, and Heimaey, another island where in 1973 an eruption began in the middle of the night, in the middle of a town.

But if you go further back in time you can find much more devastating examples. In the year 1104, the volcano Hekla covered more than half the island with pumice. And in 1783, Laki erupted for eight months, pouring out the biggest lava flow in recorded history. Laki also emitted more than 100 million tons of sulfur dioxide, which drifted over Europe to form a choking fog that damaged crops and changed the climate for years.

Iceland has approximately 30 volcanoes, and Bárđarbunga, the largest volcano in that part of the planet, is threatening to erupt. Air traffic over the area is currently suspended.

The Iceland Meteorological Office features a live webcam of the glacier covered volcano.

We recently covered volcanoes and the havoc they cause in our story on the Mt. St. Helens Volcano.