Further ash clouds highly unlikely in UK

by Alfie FEATHERSTONE on August 15, 2011

The UK isn’t likely to see further giant volcanic ash clouds in this lifetime, as suggested by a new study.

Last year’s cloud cost European businesses over £2bn and smaller eruptions this spring caused even more anxiety. Analysis of a record of clouds stretching back across northern Europe highlighted big ash clouds of 2010’s type occurring on average every 56 years. The journal Geology is responsible for publishing the journal.

While some ash clouds have been witnessed and recorded by artists and writers throughout history, no evidence exists of ash clouds before AD1600. Fortunately though, a detailed 7,000 year record has been preserved in peat bogs, as well as lake beds, in microscopic layers of material associated with volcanoes, such as ash, called tephra.

A team of scientists has started compiling both the history and sediment records of Britain, EIRE, Germany, Scandinavian countries, and the Faroe Islands in an attempt to show how common such events are.

Over the past 1,000 years - the time period that has the best records available - ash has dropped in northern Europe roughly , on average, at least every 56 years. Computer models analysing the prevalence of deposits estimates that there is a 16% chance of ash falling every decade.

Understandably, the news will be welcomed by holidaymakers fearful of experiencing delays and cancellations in the future - especially after 2010’s events.

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