Volcano ecology

Space is a precious resource. We hoard it and guard it. Together with air, water, warmth and tomato ketchup, it is one of the essential ingredients for life. We are happy to share empathy, food, and money, but letting someone else invade our personal space is a big step well beyond that. Social distancing is…

Hekla of history: the 1104 eruption

Of all the volcanoes of Iceland, the most famous is Hekla. It is one of five recognized stratovolcanoes in Iceland, and of those it is by far the most active. Over the past millennium, there have been around 20 eruptions of Hekla, accounting for 13% of all Icelandic eruptions. There are more prolific eruptors on…

Was Puyehue Cordón-Caulle really a VEI-5?

That the question even exist is a bit of an oddity in modern volcanology, after all we have known amply how to take ejecta-depth measurements to create Isopac-maps since 1956, more about that below. The reason that this question has prevailed is that there are anomalies in the numbers proven for the eruption, compared to…

The Forgotten Volcano

A few days ago, I was sipping on a rum and coke as I was flying over Kilimanjaro and the great continental divide ripping East Africa away from the embrace of the rest of Africa. As I did that, I got to ponder the other major tectonic powerhouse, Iceland. People tend to forget or underestimate…

Sahara, Scotland

The conifers stand tall, straight. They look old but there are patches where trees have been cut, and there is replanting elsewhere, evidence of tree harvesting. The evergreen forest is popular with tourists. This is in spite of the latitude: there are more northerly places in Scotland, but not many. The climate is not as…

Hekla – Small things and stars in the night

I was asked to write a small weekend piece while we wait for Albert to finish the second part about Grimsvötn. My original idea was to write about people eating volcanoes, but thankfully Iceland saved us from that. As many of you have noticed Grimsvötn has thrown some big ones since my part of the…

Activity at Hekla and The Dead Zone

While we are waiting for Öraefajökull to drop a Christmas present and Grimsvötn to hatch an Easter egg, we instead might get a gift from Hekla. And at the horizon suddenly, a far darker bird looms. So, once more we must ask and answer the age-old volcanic question; what gives in Iceland? Hekla Many people…

Iceland in ashes

I had never seen the Manchester sky so blue. The usual milky white which goes by the name ‘Manchester sunny day’ was gone, transformed into an azure experienced mainly during distant holidays. Great Britain of course has a bit of a reputation. Already the Romans wrote that “the atmosphere in this region is always gloomy”.…

Signs and portents of Iceland – Revisited

When I planned to write this article about the current states of Iceland I only wanted to write about Katla and Öraefajökull. But, as things turned out a third volcano got my attention. In the end this article will be about how hard it can be for a layman to see what is important and…

Dissecting Hekla

Hekla is the most mysterious of Iceland’s many volcanoes. Its brooding summit overlooks the broken plains 800 meter below as if it were an English Lord (or perhaps Lady) of the Manor. The fiefdom looks bare and uninviting, but that is not purely Hekla’s fault: once this was dense forest, but it was cut down…