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Grimsvotn Volcano, Iceland

25 May 2011

University of Bristol scientists speak to world's media about the impacts of the volcanic eruption

Iceland’s Grimsvotn Volcano, one of the country’s most active, began erupting on the 21st May creating a 20 km high ash plume and causing the closure of Iceland’s largest airport, Keflavik.

Similar to Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano which erupted in April last year, Grimsvotn is also covered by an icy glacier, but the composition of it's magma is slightly different, with a lower silica content. This means that the eruptions tend to be less explosive and therefore eject larger particles and coarser grains of ash which will fall out of the atmosphere much quicker.

The ash has however caused concern and numerous airlines are taking precautions; over the last two days, flights from Northern Ireland, Scotland and northern Germany have been disrupted. Experts currently say that due to the prevailing weather patterns the ash cloud is likely to now move eastwards and hopefully miss most of the main European airports. 

Cabot Institute members and volcanologists from Bristol's School of Earth Sciences, Professor Steve Sparks, Dr Matt Watson and Dr Jeremy Phillips have been speaking to the world’s media about the impact of the eruptions:

  • Professor Steve Sparks, Chaning Wills Professor of Geology, has been interviewed by Channel 4 News.
  • Dr Matthew Watson, Lecturer in Geophysical Natural Hazards, has been interviewed by Sky News, CNN International, BBC Points West, BBC World Television News, Heart Radio and BBC Breakfast Television (25 May).
  • Dr Jeremy Phillips, Senior Lecturer, has been interviewed by BBC Radio Bristol and LBC Radio in London, Associated Press Radio, CNN Hong Kong and BBC News 24.

The team’s expertise in this area has led to a £530,000 Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)-funded research project into Eyjafjallajökull, the Icelandic volcano that grounded air traffic across Europe last year. Professor Sparks and Dr Watson have also subsequently been elected members of the Government Chief Scientific Advisor's SAGE (Scientific Advice for Emergencies) group. 

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