News & Events

Noon seminar - Past and present environmental and social impacts of volcanic eruptions in Iceland

Monday, March 28, 2011, 12:00PM - 1:00PM


Astrid Ogilvie



ARC 620

This presentation will focus on effects of the recent 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull, and also on the Laki fissure or Skaftáreldar (the “Skaftá fires”) eruption, which occurred in 1783-84. The Eyjafjallajökull eruption was fairly minor but caused havoc to air traffic during brief periods in April and May of 2010. The Laki fissure eruption lasted from June 1783 until February 1784 and was one of the largest fissure eruptions in historical times. The eruption had a catastrophic effect in Iceland. The grass, the basic food supply for the grazing livestock, became polluted and fluorine poisoned. Within a year of the eruption, 53% of the cattle, 80% of the sheep and 77% of the horses died. It is estimated that the total death toll in Iceland represented about 22% of the population or about 10,000 people. The effects went far beyond Iceland. The fine ash and volcanic dust that rained down on Iceland were also reported elsewhere, e.g. in the Faeroe Islands, Scotland, Denmark, Norway, northern Germany and France. The dry fog associated with the eruption which was observed in many parts of Europe, also seems to have been witnessed in areas as far apart as Labrador, Newfoundland, Asia Minor and possibly China. The Eyjafjallajökull eruption had serious but not lasting effects for those living in the vicinity of the volcano.