GHEA: The ash-fall from the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull, Iceland: The formation of an environmental record, natural and cultural impacts

Project Leaders: Andy Dugmore (project owner)
Thomas McGovern

Project Type: Workshop

GHEA Project Collaborators

Start: 1st July 2010
End: 1st January 2011


This project will hold workshops to establish the best way to study the transformations and impacts of the volcanic ash fall from 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull, Iceland. This eruption offers a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a new understanding of the formation of the enduring environmental record of eruptions and transform our knowledge of the environmental data preserved within volcanic ash layers. It would also refine our understanding of both past eruptions and their impacts on society and landscape.

If the ways in which volcanic ash layers become transformed are better understood, then this could achieve four important goals: 1) we will be able to know more about the nature of the landscape onto which the ash fell and 2) the post depositional environmental processes operating on it; 3) we will be able to have a better idea of the nature of the initial ash fall and so 4) be able to better reconstruct the initial eruption.

In the aftermath of the 2010 eruption the social and environmental impacts can be tracked in detail as they happen and it will be possible to discuss unfolding events and their consequences with the affected community. How does volcanic ash affect vegetation, water quality and drainage? What are the impacts on livestock? How does the ash-fall affect grazing, soil erosion and soil fertility? Where the ash was cleared, how was this done? What other impacts (negative and positive) has the eruption caused and how does this affect the viability of farming and other rural activities?