Iceland Volcano – Sign of Bigger Things To Come?

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The Sydney Morning Herald reports the latest on the Iceland volcano. http://www.smh.com.au/world/science/volcanoes-be-afraid-be-very-afraid–the-supervolcano-is-coming-20100416-sj01.html?autostart= .  Its VEI is estimated at 2-3, not sufficient to cause global climate change. It is similar in magnitude to Mt. Etna in Sicily, 2002. Volcanoes of this magnitude typically occur worldwide about once a year. Compare that to:

– Mt. St. Helens, 1980, VEI = 4 (typically occur every 10 years) 

– Mt. Pinatubo, Philippines, 1991, VEI = 5-6 (every 100 years)

– Mt. Tambora, Indonesia, 1815, VEI = 7 (every 1000 years)

– Mt. Toba, Sumatra, 74,000 years ago, VEI 8 (devastating supervolcano, occur every 100,000 years).

The Eyjafjoll eruption probably will quiet down in a day or two, but there is a chance it could go on for a lot longer, even for months or years. Eyjafjoll last erupted in 1823 and lasted for more than a year. In the past 10 years, vulcanologists have noticed increased activity and say Iceland might be entering a more active phase and “brewing some really big bangs”.

Unlike conventional volcanoes, so-called supervolcanoes occur about every 100,00 years and have catastrophic consequences on life and climate. They are not always obvious from the surface, thus making it difficult for scientists to predict where the next one might be. Yellowstone in Wyoming, the Phlegrean fields near Naples, Italy, and Lake Taupo in New Zealand are possible locations for the next super-eruption. It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when.

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