Wednesday, April 21, 2010

If Eruptions Save the World

I lived through the 1970s in Alaska where volcanoes do erupt with steady frequency and the roaring majesty of an angry planet is felt at close range. In proximity to my Alaskan homes, I can recall four volcanoes coming erupting; a reminder that the Earth is a living thing and we are passing through it.

With that in mind, I am reflecting on the natural drama of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano erupting in Iceland grounding all European air traffic.

I wondered if the story could take on a much larger and transformative arc. Historically, the magma chambers between the erupting volcano and the more fearsome Katla 12 miles east have acted in tandem with one a harbinger of the eruption of the other. Should Katla subsequently explode, not only would European air travel be disrupted, but travel throughout the world transformed by it. Should the event last months it could have an impetus to spur alternative transportation and help wean the world off air travel by necessity. The Saga-like irony that Iceland should be the center of this distruption and potential transformation seems poetic. It is a small place that has given the world a lot to consider recently.

1 comment:

Debbie said...

You are such a prolific writer Dean, you should be published in something more than a blog. Truly you have a gift and I am humbled by it.

That said, living in the shadow of several volcanos, it is easy to become blasé about how powerful they can be. I love the majesty of Spurr and the beauty of Redoubt, the view of the chain: Augustine, Illiamna, Redoubt, and Spurr on a clear day. But nothing can compare to seeing any one of them errupting. The sudden realization that you need to take cover from the approaching ash cloud is a lesson in reality to be sure. I feel for the Icelandic people and for the lives that have been disrupted from the volcano. We take so much for granted every single day.