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Sunday, April 18, 2010

*EYJAFJALLAJOKULL, KATLA AND KILAUEA




SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Planet Earth describes various potential natural disasters, including the mega hyped Cumbre Vieja volcanic eruption said to be capable of creating a mega tsunami. Further described is a similar scenario where a portion of the Big Island of Hawaii falls into the ocean, with the potential for generating a mega (normal amplitude max is 40 feet--mega starts at 4o meters and could go up to 500 meters and higher) tsunami.









On the Big Island is Kilauea, the most active and visited volcano in the world. On 3January1983 I was golfing at the Volcano Golf and Country Club, when on our back nine, the ground shook, and, we then saw fountains of lava a few miles away. This was the beginning of the eruption that continues today, 27 years later. I bring this up because Eyjafjallajokull (E), that Icelandic volcano which erupted on March 20, continued on for 14 months when last active in 1821. Worse, every time this volcano has gone off, its much larger sister Katla (K) has also erupted. The combination of E and K could well be truly ominous. While this current phase could easily end today, as in Kilauea, what happens if the Iceland catastrophe never stops?


When the wind blows from the Big Island towards Honolulu, we become Los Angeles of 1960 when the smog was truly terrible. Kilauea is not an explosive eruption, so there are no larger sized particulates. Thus, aviation can continue. However, while there have been no reports pinpointing any health effects, there is no question in my mind that lifelong exposure to the Hawaiian vog must damage lungs, much more so on the Big Island than other islands. The concrete wall structures on my roof are turning a shade of yellow (from the sulfuric acid fallout) and small black particulates are visible. I've got to wonder if this pollyannaish absence of reliable medical studies is being influenced by the tourist industry.


The E eruption is explosive, which means that the effect can only be worse, as for example these cancellations of flight. An excellent geological description can be found in a blog by Jonathan DuHamel. Iceland, already in bankrupty, might well be catalyzing that double dip recession in Europe. If E is joined by K (no, not Kilauea, but Katla), and continues, I can only predict a devastating 2010 (and into the future if the eruption never stops) for the European Union, and not only the economy, but the health of citizens, too. So learn how to pronounce EYJAFJALLAJOKULL.


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