Monday, April 25, 2011

[Geology2] Volcanic Ash Air Shutdown The 'Right' Decision

Concerns about aircraft safety during the eruption of an Icelandic volcano in 2010 were well founded, according to a new scientific study.

Ash particles from the early phase of the eruption were small and abundant, posing a potential threat to aircraft flying through the cloud.

Such particles could have melted inside jet engines, potentially causing them to fail mid-flight.

The work by an Icelandic-Danish team is published in PNAS journal.

The analysis also reveals that ash particles from early in the eruption were particularly sharp and abrasive.

The outpour of ash from Eyjafjallajokull caused the largest closure of European airspace since World War II, with losses estimated at between 1.5bn and 2.5bn euros.

Some 10 million travellers were affected by the shutdown.

The latest research was carried out by researchers at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark and the University of Iceland in Reykjavik.

Senior author Susan Stipp, from Copenhagen University, told BBC News: "I think the really important parts of it are: Number one, the aviation authorities were absolutely right in closing airspace.

"Number two, we have presented a protocol so that, if answers are needed quickly in future, they can be had.


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