> The eruption of Eyjafjallajökull
> The ash cloud and aircraft
dimarts, 20 d'abril de 2010
The ash cloud produced by the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in southern Iceland has caused unprecedented air chaos across Europe.
The ash cloud has led to the closure of airports (particularly in northern and central Europe) and the cancellation of thousands of flights, affecting millions of passengers, including some from our country.
Even yesterday, five days after the cloud began to spread, air space remained closed, either fully or partially, in some 20 countries with 70% of flights being cancelled.
Late yesterday afternoon, following a proposal by Eurocontrol (the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation), the European Union agreed to ease flight restrictions. Earlier, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents airlines, had fiercely criticised the way in which European governments had handled the crisis.
It is estimated that the impact of the crisis on the airline industry could exceed that which followed the September 11 attacks in the United States in 2001.
The crisis has served as yet another reminder of the enormous power of nature.
The eruption of Eyjafjallajökull
Eyjafjallajökull had not erupted since the 1820s, almost 200 years ago. Compared with other volcanic eruptions, this latest one is not particularly significant. The problem is that it affects a very busy section of air space, that of Europe. The fact that the volcano is covered by a glacier has contributed to the creation of the ash cloud, which reached a maximum height of 11 km.
The ash cloud and aircraft
The cloud of volcanic ash is composed of highly abrasive particles that could affect aircraft engines and components. Bearing this in mind, the European Union yesterday defined three zones of air space, according to the level of risk based on the concentration of volcanic ash: one that is closed to aircraft, another that is open and a third that is partially open.
Volcanoes are geological features that are generally conical in shape and are created by the accumulation of igneous matter derived from the consolidation of magma that causes an eruption at the Earth's crust. Volcanoes comprise a volcanic pipe (through which the magma is pushed), a crater (the vertex through which the volcanic matter reaches the surface), and a volcanic cone (the mound formed by the erupted material).
> Erupció de l'Eyjafjallajökull: galeria fotogràfica.
> Extensió del núvol de cendra (19 d'abril a les 18.30).
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