Eyjafjallajökull: Stamp Your Ash

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Though it’s not dead yet, officials from the Iceland Post company have moved forward with the issuance of three postal stamps commemorating the recent eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano. The stamps are silk-screened with ink containing silica ash taken from the eruption (of which there is no shortage).

On March 20 of this year the volcano erupted. On and off it rumbled and spewed for about a month. Just as it seemed to be finally quieting down, a much more powerful eruption occurred late on the evening of April 13 and by daylight the next day it was apparent the volcano was only just hitting its stride. It wasn’t until six weeks later that the London Volcanic Ash Advisory Commission (VAAC) declared the eruption over. The April 13 eruption was estimated to be 10 to 20 times larger than the initial* eruption.

The volcano, now infamous for disrupting European, North Atlantic and even Asian air travel to the tune of billions of dollars (as well as being unpronounceable for those south of 63 degrees North Latitude) is not without commercial appeal. First to prosper after the eruption: Those selling T-shirts, followed quickly by those bottling the ash. Once air travel resumed, the island-nation became even more of a hot-spot as thrill-seekers hoping to witness the next eruption flocked to the crater’s edge. Even those on other continents were prospering: EuroRail became the defacto method of travel in Europe as hundreds of thousands of stranded travelers could not take to the sky. Even Twitter was able to find its way through the ash to the bank as it became the go-to service for stranded travelers looking to hitch rides across Europe by rail (see previous sentence).

And yesterday the Iceland Post company issued three stamps dedicated to the eruption. There’s no word as to whether proceeds will be used for volcano relief efforts.

Experts are still waiting for an even bigger eruption but this time from sister volcano Katla. When it happens, the Katla eruption is expected to make the Eyjafjallajökull eruption pale in comparison as even a change to global climate is within the range of post-eruption possibilities. Small-but-frequent quakes at the Katla site suggest an eruption is imminent, while smaller-and-less-frequent quakes at the Eyjafjallajökul site continue to keep residents and researchers on their toes.

* The initial eruption on March 20, 2010. Records show the earliest recorded eruption in 920, followed by an eruption in 1612 and then a series of eruptions from 1821-1823.

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