With the recent eruption of the volcano Eyjafjallajokull in Iceland, climatologists and geologists are getting worried. You see, whenever Eyjafjallajokull erupts (it had been dormant for 500 years), fellow volcano Katla follows. Katla, located under a giant sheet of ice called the Myrdalsjokull icecap, would cause problems on a global scale should it erupt. Iceland’s volcanoes have serious consequences when they blow, thanks to Iceland’s position on the Jet Stream, which controls global weather patterns. So how bad might it get?
When the Laki volcano erupted in 1783, it caused a cloud of poison gas to drift to Britain, where hundreds died. The smog and ash caused famines in Western Europe. Crop production plunged. The winter of 1784 was one of the coldest in history, with the Mississippi River freezing as far south as New Orleans. The last time there was a major eruption in Iceland, flooding followed within minutes of the hot lava hitting the glaciers, with house-sized boulders tumbling down mountains.
Pompeii was nothing compared to what might happen when Iceland’s volcanoes wake from their long slumber. The whole world is going to know when that happens, no question about it. It’s only a matter of time.