Volcano's toxic gas triple amount of all Europe's industry
Saturday, September 26, 2015, 9:13 AM - The Bardarbunga volcano in Iceland was active for nearly six months last year, and new research shows the eruption caused some shocking aftereffects.
The blast occurred between August, 2014 and February, 2015 and was the largest eruption in Iceland in more than 200 years, according to a new study.
The research published on Wednesday in the Journal of Geophysical Research, shows there were times Bardarbunga emitted as much as 120 kilotons of gases a day, which is equivalent to eight times the rate of all European industry.
In fact, volcanic sulphur dioxide emissions were triple that of all Europe's industry combined and lava amounts were enough to cover an area the size of Manhattan.
The gases were detected by air quality monitoring stations up to 2,750 km away from the mountain, the report notes.
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"This was a truly spectacular eruption. It became clear very quickly that the eruption was producing truly staggering amounts of sulphur dioxide," Anja Schmidt, author of the study told Wired.
Many schools were closed, outdoor activities were cancelled and residents were told to stay inside during the volcano's peak activity.
Unfortunately, it looks like more violent volcanic activity could be on the way.
As a precaution, scientists at the universities of Edinburgh and Leeds have developed a system to monitor the volume of toxic gas and the distance of flow.
"For the next two decades we'll be in the peak of Icelandic rifting period -- a period of heightened volcanic activity that occurs every 140 years or so," John Stevenson, co-author of the study at the University of Edinburgh told Wired. "There will be a chance that there will be more eruptions like this one in the next 20 years."
The 1783 eruption of Laki in Iceland was 10 times more violent than Bardarbunga's recent burst. The volcano killed three quarters of sheep and cattle in the country, according to Stevenson.
"There was a famine and they considered evacuating the whole island of Iceland it was so bad," Stevenson told Wired.
Schmidt predicts if an eruption the scale of Laki takes place again, an estimated 100,000 people would die in the U.K. due to poor air quality, Wired reports.
The eruption prior to Bardarbunga was Eyjafjallajokull, which occurred in the spring of 2010. European air space was closed as a result of astonishing amounts of ash.