UK concerned about threat of Icelandic volcanoes

A UK government report has claimed that if one of Iceland’s “super volcanoes” erupted, it could pose just as big a threat to security as nuclear terrorism.

A team of academics and scientists from the British Geological Survey and the Met Office as well as geologists from Edinburgh University warned that one of these volcanoes erupting could be catastrophic for the UK.

The geologists said that “effusive gas-rich eruptions”, which could occur from some of Iceland’s volcanoes, should be viewed as a danger to human health and the environment in most of northern Europe. They explained that these volcanoes can erupt for months on end, causing “geological destruction” thousands of kilometres away from the source.

Eyjafjallajokull volcano, which caused widespread disruption after erupting in 2010, has been described as “very explosive” as it shoots ash into the atmosphere in just a short period of time. Although it stopped air traffic in the UK after erupting in 2010, the Cabinet Office described the event as a “relatively minor one”.

The research looks at more damaging eruptions such as the Laki one in 1783, which resulted in tens of thousands of people dying in the UK. It claimed that if a similar eruption occurred in the future, the UK and other northern European countries could be covered with layers of toxic ash and other materials and experience extreme climate conditions.

The scientists said that a gas-rich volcanic eruption is a “high-impact natural hazard” and is one of three natural hazards the UK faces that should be treated as “highest priority”.