Island on Fire: The Extraordinary Story of a Forgotten Volcano That Changed the World by Alexandra WitzeLaki is Iceland’s largest volcano. Its eruption in 1783 is one of history’s great, untold natural disasters. Spewing out sun-blocking ash and then a poisonous fog for eight long months, the effects of the eruption lingered across the world for years. It caused the deaths of people as far away as the Nile and created catastrophic conditions throughout Europe.
Island on Fire is the story not only of a single eruption but the people whose lives it changed, the dawn of modern volcanology, as well as the history—and potential—of other super-volcanoes like Laki around the world. And perhaps most pertinently, in the wake of the eruption of another Icelandic volcano, Eyjafjallajökull, which closed European air space in 2010, acclaimed science writers Witze and Kanipe look at what might transpire should Laki erupt again in our lifetime.
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The Laki eruption lasted eight months during which time about 14 cubic km of basaltic lava and some tephra were erupted. Haze from the eruption was reported from Iceland to Syria. In Iceland, the haze lead to the loss of most of the island's livestock by eating fluorine contaminated grass , crop failure by acid rain , and the death of one-quarter of the human residents by famine.
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The fissure, which extends northeast-southwest, is divided into two nearly equal halves by the 2,foot metre mountain, which rises some feet m above its immediate surroundings. Mount Laki was not completely breached by the fissure; between the fissure cuts on the slopes of the mountain, there are only a few very small craters that extruded small amounts of lava. The eruption began on June 8, Until July 29 activity was confined to the fissure southwest of Mount Laki. On July 29 the fissure northeast of the mountain became active, and from that time almost all activity was confined to that half of the fissure. The eruption lasted until early February , and it is considered to be the greatest lava eruption on Earth in historical times.
The newly formed chain of volcanoes was named later Laki. Map showing the chain of fissures and craters of Laki on the upper bottom. The lava flows moved towards the sea and surrounded the town of Klaustur. Image in public domain. The flood of fire flowed with the speed of a great swollen river with meltwater on a spring day, It tuned out, however, that the lava wasn't the only threat to Iceland. Observers also noted they became "bloated" and their mouths swelled.
It wasn't a enormous explosion like many people associate with giant eruptions, nothing like Tambora or Krakatau. However, it did have a profound impact on people living around the entire Northern Hemisphere for years afterwards, although the direct impact the eruption had on the Earth's climate is still a widely debated and researched topic. In honor of this anniversary, I thought I'd try to give a brief primer on the eruption and why it is such an important eruption, both in terms of Icelandic volcanism and its global impact. That volume might be hard to visualize, but That means that Laki erupted 3.
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Climate change. Geology of Britain., The Laki eruption and its aftermath caused a drop in global temperatures, as million tons of sulfur dioxide was spewed into the Northern Hemisphere.
Podcast: Play in new window Download Duration: — Iceland is home to volcanoes and as of today, 30 of them are active. While the country has experienced 13 eruptions since it was settled in AD , none has been as devastating as the Laki eruption that started in and lasted for 8 months! During this episode of the All Things Iceland podcast , you will learn about the effects this massive eruption had on Iceland and other parts of the world. If we are being technical, the mountain Laki did not erupt.