Dating young volcanic rocks
Teams of seismologists and geologists at the university are now working with disaster officials to prepare nearby communities like Vik, a small town of some 300 people that is flanked by black sand beaches.Under threat: Emergency preparations are being made in Vik, a small Icelandic town of just 300 people, where residents still recall stories from their relatives of Katla volcano's last eruption in 1918 Iceland sits on a large volcanic hot spot in the Atlantic's mid-oceanic ridge.At first they assume it’s a plague pit from the Black Death, but when they date the bones, they turn out to be too old by a century. The chronicles of that time describe a run of wild weather that devastated crops and spread famine across Europe.NOVA’s expert team looks for the signature of a volcanic eruption big enough to have blasted a huge cloud of ash and sulfuric acid into the atmosphere, which chilled the entire planet.Named after an evil troll, Katla has a larger magma chamber than Eyjafjallajokul's.Its last major eruption in 1918 continued more than a month, turning day into night, starving crops of sunlight and killing off some livestock.Eruptions, common throughout Iceland's history, are often triggered by seismic activity when the Earth's plates move and magma from deep underground pushes its way to the surface.'We've been getting calls recently from people concerned that Katla is about to erupt because it erupted ...in 1918 on October 12,' said Einar Kjartansson, a geophysicist at the Icelandic Meteorological Office.
But the eruption had an even more far-reaching impact.
It seems like an Icelandic volcano could be to blame for the mysterious 13th century event. He became intrigued by one of the most massive eruptions in recorded history, even though it occurred just 200 years ago and was located much farther away: Mount Tambora, in Indonesia.
In April 1815, eyewitness accounts record that Mount Tambora erupted explosively.
Now, scientists come together to scour our volatile earth, to solve the mystery of Killer Volcanoes, right now, on NOVA.
Of all the forces of nature, volcanoes are among the most dangerous.