New data that has come to light indicates that the air travel ban instituted shortly after the Eyjafjallajökull eruption was fully warranted, as the ash was much more dangerous to engines than was initially suspected.
Wired reports on the story, quoting Susan Stipp, a geoscientist at the University of Copenhagen, as saying, “Aviation authorities made the right decision.”
Volcanologists in Iceland had sent fresh samples of the ash to Stipp shortly after the eruption. What the researchers found was that even after being soaked in water for two weeks and stirred, the ash particles – one of which can be seen above – maintained their sharp edges.
These ash particles are often covered in pieces of chlorine, fluorine and arsenic. Jacopo Taddeucci of Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology and colleagues, also found that even as the eruption was winding down in May 2010, the volcano was still releasing sharp particles of ash.
These edges, researchers say, could have done significant damage to the surface of the airplanes, not to mention the damage done to the precision instrumentation inside the engines. This data might hopefully make those who were inconvenienced by the eruption take heart that their lives may have been saved by being grounded.
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