As the Ash Cloud restrictions on UK airports are extended into Monday morning, Dr Dougal Jerram, a volcanologist from Durham University, warns us that the last big eruption of Eyjafjallajokull, which was back in the in the 1820s, went on for about two years, and its current eruption could last “several months”.
Volcanology or vulcanology is the study of volcanoes, lava, magma, and related geological, geophysical and geochemical phenomena. The term volcanology is derived from the Latin word vulcan, which means the Roman god of fire.
A volcanologist is a person who studies the formation of volcanoes, and their current and historic eruptions. Volcanologists frequently visit volcanoes, especially active ones, to observe volcanic eruptions, collect eruptive products including tephra (such as ash or pumice), rock and lava samples. One major focus of enquiry is the prediction of eruptions; there is currently no accurate way to do this, but predicting eruptions, like predicting earthquakes, could save many lives.
Aviation expert David Learmount talking to the BBC however, warns the ash could cause disruption for 20 years He said the continued eruptions would not necessarily cause more problems to air travel, as a number of factors – explosive eruptions, a concentrated plume and certain weather patterns – needed to be in place at the same time to create “the perfect storm”.
This could go on for 20 years or more. We just don’t know how long this volcano is going to erupt for.
Technologically there’s nothing we can do about this. We cannot build engines and aircraft which can fly safely through volcanic ash, it’s just out of the question.
The only thing that we can do is get better at predicting precisely where every part of the volcanic ash cloud is.