Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Portrait of The Volcano As a Young Ash-Hole

I first saw these radar images, acquired by The Coast Guard of Iceland, yesterday, but unfortunately didn't think to mark them and set them aside. Then I couldn't find them again. But teh google came through for me this morning.I'm not certain exactly what we're seeing here... fresh lava? Ash on ice? Craters, explosion pits, melt holes in the ice? Again, I don't know. But The NYT says, "According to the Coast Guard, the three craters are between 200 and 500 meters in diameter."
So the "mouth" on that angry-looking image above is nearly a third of a mile across.


In other news, I just learned this morning (from a wonderfully informative and link-rich post at Eruptions) that the lava is andesitic, not basaltic. With out getting into a whole lot detail, this means that the lava is certainly more viscous (resistant to flow) than I had presumed, and likely more volatile (gas) rich than I had presumed as well. Which is not good news... this means that this lava may be prone to explosive, ash-rich activity on its own- with or without water and ice. Remember how I said that water flashing to steam was the driver of these explosions? It may well have been, but it's looking now as if the magma below the volcano may be of a nature inclined to explode even without surface and shallow ground water present.

We're starting to see the serious economic implications of freezing air traffic, not to mention the irritation and aggravation of millions who've had their plans disrupted, even if those plans didn't involve flying anywhere oneself. Sorry, folks; it doesn't look like there's going to be a respite any time soon.

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