Taxonomy term

volcanic eruption

Of airplanes and ash clouds: What we've learned since Eyjafjallajökull

The havoc created when Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull Volcano erupted in 2010 and closed trans-Atlantic and northern European airspace for days also created research opportunities. Scientists, engineers and the airline industry have been working together to figure out how to keep the aviation system going when volcanic ash can’t be avoided.
02 Apr 2017

Warning: Ash Ahead!

One of the next-generation tactics being pursued by engineers is the use of ash-sensing equipment installed on airplanes that could warn of an ash cloud ahead and allow pilots time to adjust their flight path to avoid the cloud. “If you’re driving a car and you see a hazard up ahead, you can navigate around it,” says Fred Prata of the University of Oxford in England. “Every aircraft has radar equipment with which [pilots] can see weather systems and fly around them. This is the same concept, but adapted to image volcanic ash.”

02 Apr 2017

Ash vs. airplanes

Between 1953 and 2009,* there were 129 reported incidents of airplane-ash encounters, with 79 of those causing some degree of airframe or engine damage. Twenty-six involved significant or severe damage, and nine involved some degree of engine shutdown during flight. Most of the encounters occurred within 24 hours of the onset of ash production during an eruption and within 1,000 kilometers of the source volcano. All flights landed safely.

02 Apr 2017

Pyroclastic flows, not caldera collapse, caused Santorini tsunamis

The 1650 B.C. eruption of the Greek island volcano Santorini, located in the Aegean Sea, triggered tsunamis that heavily damaged coastal towns and disrupted vital shipping and trade operations, events thought to be important factors in the demise of the ancient Minoan culture.

17 Mar 2017

To cool the planet, volcanoes of the future will need more firepower

Explosive volcanic eruptions can spew sulfur gas into the stratosphere — the layer of the atmosphere above where most clouds and weather occur — where it forms sulfate aerosols that reflect sunlight back into space and cool the planet. Now, researchers investigating how volcanic plumes could be affected by projected anthropogenic warming have found that, as temperatures rise, it becomes more difficult for volcanic plumes to reach the stratosphere.

06 Mar 2017

Benchmarks: November 13, 1985: Nevado del Ruiz eruption triggers deadly lahars

On Nov. 13, 1985, at a little after 9 p.m. local time, Nevado del Ruiz, a volcano about 130 kilometers from Colombia’s capital city of Bogotá, erupted, spewing a violent mix of hot ash and lava into the atmosphere. Less than three hours later, the earth rumbled as mudflows towering nearly 30 meters high swept through the countryside, several villages and eventually the town of Armero, where it killed 70 percent of the town’s residents. All-told, these mudflows, called lahars, killed more than 23,000 people.

13 Nov 2016

When Earth hit the reset button on life: New research on the Permian-Triassic mass extinction

The Permian-Triassic extinction 252 million years ago extinguished most life on Earth. Recent research weighs in on the kill mechanisms, the timing of the extinctions on land and in the water, and how the environmental degradation of the past may shed light on our current mass extinction.

25 Oct 2016

Scientists get rare opportunity to monitor caldera collapse in real time

Many of the most catastrophic volcanic eruptions in history have something in common: caldera collapse — the formation of a large hole by the collapse of a volcano’s peak associated with the emptying of the magma chamber. But these events are rare. So, in August 2014, when Bárdarbunga Volcano in central Iceland erupted, it gave scientists the unique opportunity to study a caldera collapse in real time.

17 Oct 2016

Kilauea increases asthma risk

Kilauea may be best known for its picturesque red lava flowing into the ocean, but new research presented this week at the Geological Society of America annual meeting in Denver, Colo., suggests that locally, the volcano may be known for something more dangerous: asthma. The new study links gaseous eruptions from the Hawaiian volcano to increased asthma risk for those living downwind, especially children.

 
28 Sep 2016

Sand shouldn't stand in for volcanic ash in jet engine tests

In 2010, the ash cloud produced by Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull Volcano grounded trans-Atlantic and European flights for six days due to fears that the high-flying ash could damage — and stall — jet engines. The eruption, which snarled international air travel and led to billions in economic losses, spotlighted the need for more study of the effects of volcanic ash on jet engines. Many such studies have been done using sand as a convenient stand-in for ash. But a new study shows that some types of volcanic ash behave very differently from sand at high temperatures, suggesting sand is an inadequate analogue.

31 Jul 2016

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