Plume of volcanic ash

All flights have been cancelled today due to a plume of volcanic ash which is floating high above the UK, the result of the eruption of an Icelandic volcano which lies in the south of the country, under the glacier called Eyjafiallajoekul.

London is quiet without air traffic. The sky is not dark from the ash, nor can we see it the ash from our view from the ground. It is out of the ordinary to be affected by volcanic activity in a place whose climate and geology is usually mild and unthreatening. Descriptions of clouds of ash belong to stories of Pompei, not to Gatwick and Heathrow.

The Icelandic nation was treated as a terrorist by the UK government during the global economic melt down . Perhaps one of the Saga Age gods is furiously making his anger known; the pictures of the craters certainly look like a vengeful screaming ghost. The result is that our air traffic is halted. The shocking thought of not being able to fly off our island, an idea of the future and the past, not for the present,  is usually associated with limited oil or attempts to curtail global warming.  The threat to our way of life usually comes from others, so it is unnerving when it comes from rocks and on a vast uncontrollable scale, separate from human feeling and politics and without care or motive. Taking sides becomes meaningless and no invective can be raised against vast natural events. The only answer is almost intangible – a change in the wind to take the ash elsewhere.

Icelandic ash has fallen here before. Volcano Hekla’s emissions of thousands of years ago is part of the Scottish ground.

Eyjafiallajoekul may produce more ash and we don’t know how long it will last for or if and when it will happen again. The last time few times this volcano has awakened, it has been followed grand eruptions from the near by Katla volcano which is connected underground.  I wonder what Katla will throw up in the skies.

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