Lava fields, Lakagígar, Iceland
Laki or Lakagígar (Craters of Laki) is a volcanic fissure in the south of Iceland, not far from the small village Kirkjubæjarklaustur. It lies between the glaciers of Mýrdalsjökull and Vatnajökull, in an area of fissures that run in a south-west to north-east direction.
The system erupted over an eight-month period between 1783 and 1784 from the Laki fissure and the adjoining Grímsvötn volcano, pouring out an estimated 14 km3 of basalt lava and clouds of poisonous hydrofluoric acid and sulfur dioxide compounds that killed over 50% of Iceland's livestock population, leading to a famine that killed approximately 25% of the island's human population.
The Laki eruption and its aftermath caused a drop in global temperatures, as sulfur dioxide was spewed into the Northern Hemisphere. This caused crop failures in Europe and may have caused droughts in India. The eruption has been estimated to have killed over six million people globally, making the eruption the deadliest in historical times.
The meteorological impact of Laki continued, contributing significantly to several years of extreme weather in Europe. In France a sequence of extremes included a surplus harvest in 1785 that caused poverty for rural workers, accompanied by droughts and bad winters and summers, including a violent hailstorm in 1788 that destroyed crops. These events contributed significantly to a build-up of poverty and famine that may have contributed to the French Revolution in 1789.
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