Active volcanoes dominate the pages Iceland unique geological history. The current volcanic eruption of Eyjafjallajokull, known as island-mountain glacier, started in April 14, 2010. Even though there was no dead victim in the aftermath of eruption, it had huge impacts to the economic and political affairs in Europe and across the world. Subsequently, BBC (2010) reported that Iceland president, Olafur Grimsson, said that the time for Katla volcano to erupt is coming close; Iceland has to prepare, it is high time for European government and airline authorities all over the world to start planning for the eventual Katla eruption. Iceland is a state with 320,000 people, sits on a large volcanic hotspot in the mid Atlantic Oceanic Ridge, and has a history of devastating eruptions. Iceland has about 130 volcanic mountains which were 18 volcanoes have erupted since the settlement of Iceland since 900 CE. The volcanoes are Askja, Baroarbunga, Brennisteinsfjoll, Eldfell, Eldgja fissure, Asjufjoll, Eyjafjallajokull, Fremrinamur, Grimsnes, Grimsvotn, Hekla, Hengill, Heroubreio, Hofsjokull, Hverfjall, Jolnir, Katla, Kerlingarfjoll, Kolbeinsey ridge, Kollotaddyngja, Krafla, Krysuvik, Krakatindur, Kverkfjoll, Laki, Langjokull, Loki-Fogrufjoll, Ljosufjoll, Lysuholl, Oraefajokull, Prestahnukur, Reykjanes, Reykjaneshryggur, Snaefellsjokull, Surtsey, Tindjallajokull, Tjornes fracture zone, Torfajokull, Tungnafellsjokull, and Vatnafjoll.
The eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull glacier in April 14, 2010 was the second time in less than a month, while the previous eruption happened in March 20, 2010. The first eruption happened in about 8 kilo meters east of the top crater of volcano in a popular hiking region named Fimmvorouhals. The second eruption happened along with melting ice, shooting smoke and steam into the air, and forcing hundreds of people to flee rising floodwater.
The three previous eruptions of Eyjafjallajokull are known in the 1,100 years of Iceland’s volcanic history as formulated by Larsen (1999). A minor eruption happened in 1821 had caused some damages because the heavy ash fallen in the area around the volcano. It continued with the eruption in 1822 with the ash fallen in the far north of the country. The nearby Katla volcano had erupted in 1823 and steam columns were seen on the summit of Eyjafjallajokull.
The eruption of Eyjafjallajokull completed history of Icelandic volcano for centuries. During the eruption of Laki volcano, it had spread a cloud of ash and sulphurous gases across Europe for most of the summer in 1783 and continued in 1784 resulting in high summer temperature and poor air quality that boosted mortality in several countries. There is no suggestion that the latest eruption will yield a similar sulphurous gas cloud, so the impact should be less.
The Impacts of Eyjafjallajokull Eruption The eruption of Eyjafjallajokull volcano had impacted at both economic and political activities in Europe and across the globe. The economic impacts lie mostly on the airline industries in Europe. The ash cloud became a menace to air travel as it drifted south and east toward northern Europe including Britain about 1,200 miles away. The ash plume drifted at between 20,000 feet and 36,000 feet, where it could get sucked into air plane engines and caused them to shut down. The ash also could affect aircraft visibility. MSNBC (2010) reported that the volcanic ash drifting across the Atlantic forced the cancellation of flights in Britain and disrupted air traffic across northern Europe, stranding thousands of passengers. Flights in and out of London Heathrow, Europe’s busiest airport, were halted, and the shutdowns and cancellations spread to France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Ireland, Sweden, Finland, and Switzerland. The volcano’s smoke and ash poses a threat to aircraft because it can affect visibility, and microscopic debris can get sucked into airplane engines and can cause them to shut down.
Since Iceland sits on the key routes between Europe and the USA, depend on meteorological conditions it could also affect flights from Europe to Asia because there are two big international flows which could be affected by the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull volcano. Conversely, several United States flights to Heathrow, including those from Chicago, San Francisco, Denver, Las Vegas, and New York, had to return to their departure cities and land elsewhere when London airports were closed. The Canadian airlines also cancelled some Europe-bound flights.
The Icelandic plume lies above the Atlantic Ocean close to the flight paths for most routes from the United States East Coast to Europe, and over northern Europe itself. According to Air Transport Association (2010), on an average day, the United States airlines operate about 340 flights to and from Europe, however in the aftermath of eruption of Eyjafjallajokull, the United States carriers cancelled at least 100 of those flights because of the ashes. The cancellations affected at least 10 countries such as Britain, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Sweden, United Arab Emirates, Finland, France, Belgium, the Netherland, and Denmark. Other flights to and from Europe were being diverted around British airspace which has been closed after the eruption. As such, the American Airlines had cancelled 34 flights to airports in London, Manchester, Brussels, Dublin, and Paris even though the airlines were well-versed in dealing with air traffic disruptions caused by weather, hurricanes, or even earthquake.
The passengers who were stranded in the closed airports had tried to reach the trains to continue their journeys. The train and ferry services enjoyed the moment when the passengers tried to use them instead of the airlines. Eurostar train services to France and Belgium were packed as the passengers sought ways out of Britain. It went the same to the Channel ferries as the travellers were packed somewhere else.
The economic impacts of Eyjafjallajokull eruption not only hit on the European economic but also affected on African economies. According to BBC (2010), Kenya was reported to export 400 tones of flower to airship to the UK however it was up in the air because there was no flight to Europe at that moment. As the result, the Kenyan economic had lost $ 3.8 million each day because of the closed European airport. At the same time, Zambian economic had lost $ 150,000 each day from the flower and vegetable industry because of the same reason. It went the same to Ugandan fish and flower export to Europe that had been affected by the closed airport.
The political impacts of Eyjafjallajokull eruption lied on the facts that the volcanic cloud floating miles above the earth was able to knock out jet engines and wrecked travel plans of thousand people such as tourists, business travellers, politicians, and royals. The source of frustration had been seen indirectly when the ash created vibrant red and lavender sunsets.
The United States’ president, Barack Obama, was not able to attend the funeral of Polish president and first lady, Lech Kaczynski and Maria Kaczynka, who dead because of plane crash in April 10, 2010. It went the same to French president, Nicolas Sarcozy, who could not attend the funeral because of the same reason. The delegation from India, Pakistan, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, New Zealand had confirmed that they could not attend the funeral. The closed of European airport had impacts on the changing travel schedule of world politicians.
Meanwhile, the travel plans of the royals from the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, and Sweden had to adjust from air to car or train to attend the celebration of 70th birthday of Denmark’s Queen Margrethe. It went the same to the cancellation of Prince Wales’s travel plan to attend the funeral of the Polish president.
According to MSNBC (2010), the domestic impact of the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull volcano gave evidence that there were 700 people from rural areas near the volcano were evacuated because of flash flooding as water carrying icebergs the size of small houses rushed down the mountain. The icebergs could damage the roads and other infrastructure.
It has been widely known that the quite and peaceful Iceland had the history of active volcanoes and the volcano eruption that could happened anytime. European authorities have been aware on this as well as other states in the globe. Although there was no dead victims, but the huge economic and political impacts of the eruption were inevitable. (Emilia Yustiningrum)