Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Geological explosions to rock Iceland and disrupt your air travel?

Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano
By Todd Romaine

Things are brewing in cold, rugged Iceland. Another earthquake hit the Icelandic volcano (Bardarbunga) earlier today. This is not to be confused with the other volcano - Eyjafjallajokull) that erupted back in 2010. This recent shake was the largest of the multiple earthquakes to hit over the past week, sending out suspicions of a volcanic eruption in the coming days. Such an eruption would disrupt air travel across Europe and possibly North America. Many transcontinental flight hover in and around Icelandic air space and several include regular stops in the capital, Reykjavik.

Eyjafjallajokull's eruption in 2010
Like me, many would think the reason for disrupted travel in the event of a volcanic eruption is that it affects visibility and hence it becomes a safety issue without basic navigation abilities through a thick plume of smoke. But truth be told, volcanic ash contains glass and pulverized rock particles that are bad for airplane engines. Apparently such particles can erode the engine compressor or even solidify on the turbine blades, blocking the engines. That being said, the grounded flight option for 6 straight days like such as occurred in 2010 is unlikely to ever repeat itself again. Airlines have relaxed their policies since such time and increasingly comfortable on flying through ash or deviating around the perimeter of the eruption and its smoke trails. So if this sucker explodes soon, you may be delayed but most likely you will viewing some possible impressive views between North America and Europe or vice versa.

Eyjafjallajokull's ash cloud
And if you are delayed for a day or two, feel free to spend some time exploring (if time permits) in and around your departure city rather than being cramped and stressed at the airport. You may need to extend your car rental which likely can be done over the phone or when you return back to the airport. So keep your eyes frequently on the news and be prepared to have a few buffer days planned for in the event you are temporarily stranded because of an explosion on some remote island in the middle of the North Atlantic!

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