Seems there is No Immediate end in sight
The eruption began on March 20 with a lava flow on the eastern flank of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano, according to the Institute of Earth Sciences at the University of Iceland. After a lull, it erupted again early on April 14, directly under the icecap that covers most of the mountain.
Magma and Ice
“The problem here is we have magma interacting with glacier ice, and that leads to explosions,” Hreinsdottir said. “That causes the material to go much higher in the air.”
Mike Burton, a researcher at the Italian National Vulcanology Institute who has studied the ash from the latest explosion, said it presents more of a threat to aircraft than would the dust from a typical eruption.
“It’s likely that ash production will continue long after all the ice is melted in the volcano as this kind of magma can produce ash without water,” Burton said by telephone. “Fine ash is easier to transport long distances and goes higher into the atmosphere. This is not good news for flights.” Rescue teams evacuated 500 people on Sunday from the rural area surrounding the eruption; no injuries or damage to property were reported.
Researchers are now concerned that this event could cause a large eruption at an even more powerful volcano, Katla, partially covered by a large icecap. An eruption there could cause major floods and potentially affect people who live nearby.
Commerce Being Affected
With northern Europe transformed into a no-fly zone by the eruption, airlines were expected to loose over $200 million a day in revenue, said a “conservative estimate” from the International Air Transport Association.“It comes at a difficult time,” said David Frost, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce. “Business is just recovering from a deep recession … our recovery depends on British business searching out new overseas markets and getting cargo across the globe.”
The airline sector has already been suffering from the global economic squeeze, high fuel costs and, for some, a spate of strikes. Last month, British Airways said a walkout by cabin staff cost it about $10 million a day, but the strike affected less than 40 percent of its flights, much less than those grounded by the dust cloud.
Some industry analysts said, however, that if the stoppage did not drag on too long, the airlines should be able to absorb the short-term impact, despite having to offer refunds, meals and hotel rooms for many customers left marooned by canceled flights.
With air freight also blocked, the shock was being felt well beyond the transport sector.
“It’s terrible. I do not have any more scallops,” said Christophe Malysse, director of the Lobsterfish company that supplies European restaurants with live shellfish imported from North America.
“If it only lasts a day or two it’s not a disaster, but if it goes on any longer it’s a real problem. Thankfully I got in a big supply of lobsters from Canada just before they shut the airports,” he said from his headquarters in western Belgium.
Malysse’s North American suppliers could face even bigger problems if their fresh, perishable products are not flown out on time.UK supermarkets face significant disruption to their supply chains due to the ban on air freight.
The express mail company DHL Express said it was fortunate because its hub airport in Leipzig, Germany, was able to stay open through Thursday night enabling it to keep up dispatching to most destinations. Although the airport was closed Friday morning, spokesman Joerg Wiedemann said the company was hopeful it would re-open in time for its peak nighttime flights.
Speaking from Bonn, Germany, Wiedemann explained that the company was switching some mail to trucks for European destinations unreachable by air. “We’re switching to road, which will cause some delays, but considering the entire situation, that’s the best we can do.” He said it was too early to estimate the extra costs caused by the volcano.
The impact on the insurance industry was also not immediately clear. In Britain, some insurers were classifying the ash cloud as a bad weather event, which means clients may be able to file claims if their vacations are nixed by canceled flights. However others were treating the Icelandic eruption as an “act of God” which would be outside most travel policies.
Iceland will likely be hit hardest.
The explosion of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano has brought damage from ash fall and floodwaters from melted glaciers at a time when the economy is still reeling from its 2008 collapse.
Meanwhile the ash is having a big impact on the sporting world. Cyclist Bradley Wiggins has been forced to miss this weekend’s Amstel Gold race in the Netherlands.
The three-time Olympic champion told his Twitter followers: “Can’t get to Amstel this weekend due to Arthur!”
In football, the Manchester derby has also been affected. Steve Bennett, who was due to take charge of the game at Eastlands, has reportedly been stranded in Romania and has been replaced by Martin Atkinson.
West Indian fast bowler Tino Best, a new signing for Yorkshire, could have his debut delayed. The 28-year-old had been due to fly to the UK this weekend.
And promoters are being forced to cancel music concerts as artists are left unable to fly.
Only time will tell how long this disaster will last. The wind could change quite suddenly and some airspace could open up. The Volcano could suddenly spew more of its destructive gas and ash high into the atmosphere. There is no telling what will happen in the next few days, or how this will affect global weather patterns either.