Time to bring back the QE2

201004170932.jpg by NASA Goddard Photo and Video

Volcanic ash continues to wreak travel chaos – CNN.com
[Via CNN ]

A cloud of ash from an Icelandic volcano continued to blanket Europe Saturday, shutting down airspace in 23 countries and causing travel misery for millions of people.

About 16,000 flights are expected to be canceled in European airspace Saturday air traffic authority Eurocontrol said. About 6,000 flights were expected to take off Saturday, compared with the normal 22,000.

On Friday about 10,400 flights took place in Europe, compared with the normal 29,000 — meaning more than 18,000 flights were canceled for the day.


Eyjafjallajökull is really having a big effect on Europe. The image above shows the ash as it continues across England – at the left – across Europe to Russia – at the right. It is right in the jet stream across Europe.

Getting around by air is pretty much impossible in Europe right now. People are using trains and autos but getting across the Atlantic is not really possible. Too bad the Queen Elizabeth II was decommissioned in 2008 and is sitting in a port in Dubai right now. She could help the Queen Mary II in ferrying people across the Atlantic.

The QEII could carry about 1800 passengers and the QMII can carry about about 3000. I wonder how many other cruise ships could be pressed into service as ferries?

Because the ash from the volcano may not just go away. According to this article, a previous eruption lasted from 1821 to 1823. While the chances of ash being produced that whole time is remote, what would happen to Europe if travel is disrupted for 2-3 years? Here is a great Google map of the area being disrupted right now.

Here is the ash trail, extending from the volcano in the upper left to the Shetland Islands in the lower right:


And then there is this from Wikipedia:

Over the past 1,100 years, Eyjafjallajökull has erupted four times: in 920, 1612, between 1821–1823, and in 2010. Each of the first three of these incidents preceded an eruption in the nearby subglacial volcano, Katla.[9] Katla – a much more active volcano known for its powerful subglacial eruptions and its large magma chamber, much larger than that of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano system – has not shown any unusual activity, such as expansion of the crust or seismic activity. Some geophysicists in Iceland support the notion that the recent volcanic eruption at Eyjafjallajökull may trigger a second eruption at Katla, one which would cause major flooding due to melting of glacial ice.

Katia is a larger volcano and one that has produced a lot of ash. 10,000 year ago it produced about 1.5 cubic miles of ash found in Norway, Scotland and the Atlantic seabed. Lets hope that does not occur again.

One final thing – the ash from many Icelandic volcanoes can be high in fluorides, which can be quite poisonous to living things, such as livestock. Fluorosis can be a big problem.

And the ash plume is still being carried aloft, with no sign of any decrease. If you are interested in more, check out the Eruptions Scienceblog.

One thought on “Time to bring back the QE2

  1. What say, once we get everyone back home, they should stay there!! Can you imagine the mess if Katia goes? This wanderlust has got to stop! LOL

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