| ||A predominantly volcanic island, Iceland is the site of the greatest eruptions in recorded history. But the greatest of all was probably the eruption of the volcano Laki, also known as Lakagigar, a part of the Myrdalsjökull volcanic system. The eruption began on June 8, 1783 and lasted until February 7, 1784. In that time, some 3.5 mi3 (14.5 km3) of lava spilled out of a 15-mile-long (24 km) fissure, covering a surface of 220 mi2 (570 km2). There were no violent explosions, but magmatic sulfur gas (137 million T [122 million t] of sulfur ejected, largely as sulfur dioxide) was released in abundance. The gas poisoned and killed cattle, while the acid rain it caused destroyed the harvest. In the three years of famine that followed the eruption, a quarter of the Icelandic population died of hunger. During the summer of 1783, a particularly cold one in Europe, observers in France and England noticed that the sun was obscured by a bluish haze. Today we hypothesize that the aerosol cloud propelled into the high atmosphere led to a 1.8°F (1°C) drop in average temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere.
Visit the YAB Gallery for books and signed prints