Iceland Mag

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Iceland Mag


Volcanic eruptions in Iceland could pose as a threat to Britain, new report claims

By Sara McMahon

  • Volcanic eruption in Eyjafjallajökull. An eruption of a super volcano in Iceland could pose as a threat to Britain and much of northern Europe. Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson

A volcanic eruption in Iceland should be regarded as an immediate risk to human health for much of northern Europe, British scientists claim.


An eruption of a super-volcano in Iceland, such as Skaftáreldar eruption in 1783, could pose as a great threat to Britain, according to a new report done by a group of scientists from the British Geological Survey, the British Met Office and Edinburgh University.

They maintain that certain types of volcanic eruptions in Iceland, known as effusive gas-rich eruptions, should be regarded as an immediate risk to human health and the environment for much of northern Europe.

According to news website the Civil Contingency Secretariat of the UK‘s Cabinet Office has been working on quantifying the risk to better understand its potential impacts on the environment.

Skaftáreldar eruption in 1783, which translates to the Skaftá fires, lasted eight months and produced an estimated 14 square kilometres (3.4 cu mi) of basalt lava and the total volume of tephra emitted was 0.91 square kilometres (0.2 cu mi). In Britain the summer of 1783 was known as the “sand-summer” because of the ash fallout. In Iceland, the consequences were disastrous; an estimated twenty-five percent of the population died in the famine which followed or from fluoride poisoning. 

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