“Sulphur dioxide has been spurting too — 35,000 tons of it a day, more than twice the amount spewing from all of Europe’s smokestacks. The gas has spread across the Icelandic countryside, causing people to wheeze and trapping some indoors.
The record-setting amount of pollution has surprised even volcanologists in the middle of a major project funded by the European Union to understand the island’s fiery activity. They had been preparing for a repeat of the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption, which led to a billowing ash plume that grounded planes across Europe. “Everybody was expecting a big ash cloud, and now we have something totally different,” says Anja Schmidt, an atmospheric modeller at the University of Leeds, UK, who studies how volcanic gases spread.”