- Education and Science»
- Geography, Nature & Weather
The End Looks Like the Beginning
What does the end of world look like? A huge black cloud riddled with the lighting of the Gods?
For that matter, what did the beginning of the world look like? Some might present the same picture and say that the world began in fire and lightning.
In April of 2010 the Eyjafjallajökull Volcano in Iceland erupted. The eruption through so much ash into the air that air travel all over Europe was affected. The eruption was thought to officially over when the ice that tops the mountain did not melt in October 2010.
In essence a volcano erupted under a glacier. This even caused some flooding for Icelanders.
The spectacular lightning displays result from something called “dry lightning” and “dirty thunderstorms”. A volcano can send tons of ash into the air. In addition, a very energetic volcanic explosion in a polar region can put a bits of rock and ice into the air. A great deal of find particulate matter rushing through the air at high speed is formula for lightning.
In fact, in locations like grain and flour elevators explosions have been known to occur due to the static electricity produce by fine particles rubbing on each other and the silos.
For volcano afficianados Eyjafjallajökull produced the entire range of just about anything they wanted to see in a volcano including lava, plumes of fiery molten rock, sparks, darks clouds of doom and even floods. Even though it may seem foolhardy to some, volcano tourism did pick up around the time of the eruptions.
At least some of the explosive activity of the volcano seem to produced by having heated molten rock under immense sheets of ice. Rapid melting of the ice and release of the heated rock and ash caused plumes that may have reach as much as 6 miles into the air. So it is no wonder that air traffic was curtailed.
There is a song that Elton John sings that has the lyrics which I will paraphrase as “…and all the science I don’t understand…” For me the mixture of lighting and lava is wicked cool. So much hot, liquid death in a such a confined space over such a short period of time. No human could survive being anywhere near it but it is cool to watch. As we wander about in the modern world it is sometimes difficult to understand why anyone thought they needed superstition or even religious faith to understand the natural world. But when you see something as fearsome and the impenetrably dark plumes of volcanic smoke and ash shot through with lightning and bathed in a volcanic glow you could begin to believe as they said in Jaws, we’re gonna need a bigger boat. Someone or something bigger than us might be required to control such massive energies. After all, it is pretty clear when you look at phenomena like volcanoes that nature could wipe us out on in a heartbeat and never notice or care that it did.