Iceland reveals massive new threat to North America that Bjork’s not singing about.
We all remember the eruption of Iceland’s volcano Eyjafyallajokull that disrupted hundreds of flights, stranding people all over Europe. The ash was a significant threat to plane engines and couldn’t be detected by the human eye at 30,000 feet. Now, according to the PBS documentary show NOVA, three more Icelandic volcanoes are threatening the entire northern hemisphere of our planet.
Iceland is the easternmost European country, famous for its volatile landscapes that boast a wide range of volcanic activity like hot springs and geysers. Home to only about 300,000 residents and nearly the size of Kentucky, Iceland was settled by the Vikings roughly one thousand years ago. Surely, these ancient explorers marveled at Iceland’s diverse topography and pools of warm water amidst the snowy terrain.
While Volcanoes are land-creators, they have a destructive side humans have feared for millennia. But more threatening than the rivers of molten lava and the ash clouds is the release of sulfuric acid, which is the same acid in your car’s battery.
Sulfuric acid mixes with water vapor to create a toxic gas. Considering our lungs are made of very delicate tissue, not protected by skin, this toxic gas works like a meat tenderizer on your lungs – a good reason to keep your gas mask handy.
Hekla, Katla and Laki are the names of three Icelandic sister volcanoes that may be ready to unleash their rage, big-time. These ancient hotspots may even be connected by underground tubes called fissures so that if one volcano blows, it’s likely to trigger the other two. Let’s take a look at each volcano.
Known during the middle-ages as the “gateway to hell”, Hekla’s peak is nearly 5,000 feet high and last erupted in the year 2000. Hekla, like Mount St. Helens in Washington State, is a stratovolcano, known for its conical dome. Many people remember when Mount St. Helens erupted in 1980, blowing ash 80 thousand feet up into the air and killing 50 people.
Laki however, is a fissure volcano that erupts out of what looks like a giant gash in the earth. Her last eruption was in 1783 and was devastating not only to Iceland, but to Europe and even parts of India. So much ash was ejected from Laki, a fog known as the “Laki Haze”, containing tons of sulfuric acid and hydrogen fluoride, covered Europe during the eruption that lasted eight toxic months. Farm animals died, fish floated to the surface of lakes and many humans developed severe respiratory problems.
Big sister Katla is one of Iceland’s largest volcanoes. At 18 miles wide, she’s a subglacial volcano sitting under 2000 feet of ice. Katla usually erupts every 50 years or so, but her last eruption was 95 years ago, meaning she’s overdue to blow. Reports from Iceland’s volcanologists say that ever since Eyjafyallajokull blasted in 2010, Katla has been rumbling.
So, where should we go for the latest information? The London Volcanic Ash Advisory Center updates pertinent info every six hours. Their website is http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/aviation/volcanic-ash-development-activities
and they monitor all the world’s volcanoes, including weather patterns.
What’s the worst-case scenario? Katla, in combination with Laki and Hekla, could potentially have the power to change the world’s climate, possibly lowering average temperatures. Now that we live in a global community, it’s difficult to say exactly how that would play out, but shipping and agriculture could certainly be disrupted. Even North America could feel the effects, particularly the east coast. Lower temperatures could easily mean more frigid storms, more snowfall and major disruptions in transportation.
Some tips: Keep extra supplies of vital medications, if possible. If you have asthma, suffer from a lung or heart condition, be prepared to stay indoors for an extended period of time should this scenario come to pass.
This article was written by Fallout Girl. Fallout Girl is a writer who enjoys target practice with her Glock 9mm, prepping for the “big one” and watching Cold War era movies in the solace of her fallout shelter somewhere underneath Los Angeles