LivingTravelAll about the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokull

All about the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokull

Eyjafjallajökull is Iceland’s famous volcano with a long name that can be very difficult to pronounce. It is located near the southern coast between Mt. Hekla and Mt. Katla, two active volcanoes. Also an active volcano, Eyjafjallajökull is completely covered by an ice sheet that feeds several outlet glaciers. At its highest point, the volcano is 5,417 feet high, and the ice sheet covers nearly 40 square miles. The crater is about two miles in diameter, is open to the north, and has three gazes along the rim of the crater.

Eyjafjallajökull has erupted frequently, the most recent being in 2010.

Meaning and Pronunciation

The name Eyjafjallajökull may sound complicated, but its meaning is very simple and can be divided into three parts: “Eyja” means island, “fjalla” means mountains and “jökull” means glacier. So when they come together, Eyjafjallajökull means ‘glacier in the mountains of the island’.

Although the translation is not that challenging, pronouncing the name of this volcano is, Icelandic can be a very difficult language to master. But by repeating the syllables of the word, it will take you a few minutes to pronounce Eyjafjallajökull better than most. Say AY-yah-fyad-layer-kuh-tel to learn the syllables of “Eyjafjallajökull” and repeat several times until you understand.

The 2010 volcanic eruption

Whether or not you have been aware of news reports about Eyjafjallajökull activity between March and August 2010, it is easy to imagine that foreign news reporters mispronounced the Icelandic volcano’s name. But no matter how it was pronounced, the story was the same, after being inactive for over 180 years, Eyjafjallajökull started emitting molten lava in an uninhabited area of southwest Iceland, thankfully. After about a month of inactivity, the volcano erupted again, this time from the center of the glacier, causing a flood and requiring the evacuation of 800 people.

This eruption also spread ash into the atmosphere causing disruptions to air travel for nearly a week in northwestern Europe, where 20 countries had closed their airspace to commercial jet traffic, affecting nearly 10 million travelers, the largest disruption in air travel since World War II. Ash continued to be a problem in the airspace for the next month, and it continued to interfere with flight schedules.

Towards the beginning of June, another opening formed in the crater and began to spew small amounts of volcanic ash. Eyjafjallajökull was monitored for the next several months and in August it was deemed inactive. Eyjafjallajökull’s previous volcanic eruptions were in the years 920, 1612, 1821, and 1823.

The type of volcano

The Eyjafjallajökull is a stratovolcano, the most common type of volcano. A stratovolcano is made up of layers of hardened lava, tephra, pumice, and volcanic ash. It is the glacier at the top that makes the Eyjafjallajökull eruptions so explosive and full of ash. Eyjafjallajökull is part of the chain of volcanoes that runs across Iceland and is believed to be connected to Katla, a larger and more powerful volcano in the chain, when Eyjafjallajökull erupts, the eruptions of Katla follow.

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