The World’s First Carbon-Neutral Volcano

~By Asher Hudson

In April of 2010 a small volcano in Iceland caused the world’s first carbon-neutral volcanic eruption on record.

The Eyjafjallajökull volcano is located in southern Iceland, approximately 150 miles from  the capital, Reykjavík.  Upon erupting a large plumb of smoke, ash and water vapor rose to 30,000ft.  This is above the cruising altitude for most commercial airline flights.  The eruption caused the initial grounding of flights to and from Iceland, but as the ash plumb grew in size over the week to stretch from the east coast of Canada and the US, to as far west as Siberia and Mongolia.

By April 25th, the majority of flights to and from Europe were grounded for obvious safety reasons.  This is interesting in the fact that if planes are grounded they are not emitting carbon-dioxide from flying.  This started an interesting offset that not many had anticipated.  The start of a carbon-neutral volcanic eruption.

The above data visualization shows the breakdown of the estimated figures and how they offset each other.

Carbon-neutral does not mean that NO carbon was emitted, it means that no ADDITIONAL carbon was emitted.  If you take the total amount of carbon that would have been emitted and subtract the amount saved by grounding planes, and then add the emissions from the volcano … it equals the amount of emissions that would have been emitted had the volcano not erupted at all.

Many businesses lost money and many people were disrupted at the airports, but that fact that there were no additional emissions, shows that there is room for us to improve the way we impact our environment.


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