Today marks the nine-year-anniversary of Eyjafjallajökull’s mighty 2010 eruption, an explosion that created an ash plume so large that much of mainland Europe’s airspace was forced to close.
Located on Iceland’s South Coast, Eyjafjallajökull (meaning “Mountain Island Glacier”) is one of the country’s smaller ice caps. Shielding an active volcano from view, the ice expands an astonishing 100 square kilometres, only proving the gargantuan nature of Iceland’s glaciers.
The eruptions began with a small explosion on 20th March 2010, an expected consequence of recorded seismic activity at the end of 2009—over 3000 earthquakes in the vicinity of the volcano were documented in March alone. This was known as Fimmvörðuháls Pass eruption, which opened a 500-metre fissure in the Southern Highlands.
On 14th April, the eruption entered its second and more violent stage, creating a giant ash cloud that forced European airspace to close until the 20th.
See also: Visit the Volcanoes in Iceland Tour
This closure caused the most significant disruption of air traffic since the Second World War. By the second stage eruption’s end on 21st May, approximately 250 million cubic metres of ejected tephra was ejected, the ash cloud having reached a total height of 9 kilometres.
The event attracted significant attention across the globe, not just for the sheer drama of the footage, but because of the sheer number of cancelled flights. Throughout the event, news outlets worldwide struggled to cover the eruption given the phonetic difficulties of pronouncing Eyjafjallajökull (—BBC TV abandoned the idea altogether, simply referring to it as “the Icelandic volcano…” )
This global focus on Iceland during 2010 is widely considered to be one of the sparks that ignited the country’s tourism boom, a trend that continues to this day.
Given Iceland’s isolation, small population and lack of tourism industry, many international spectators realised that they had paid this small Nordic island only a fraction of the attention it deserved. After all, how could a country of such staggering beauty be ignored for so long?
The eruptions were officially declared over in October 2010, but interest in Iceland as a travel destination was only just beginning. Ten years later—and quite like the volcano itself—this interest shows no sign of subsiding.
Have you paid a visit to Eyjafjallajökull glacier in South Iceland? Are you interested in participating in a glacier hiking tour during your time here? Make sure to leave your thoughts and queries in the Facebook comments box below.