Wednesday, April 21, 2010


More Iceland volcano ash cloud facts: in June 1783, the Icelandic volcano Laki started erupting - an eruption that would continue for eight months. The resulting ash cloud caused catastrophic effects across Europe, as well as parts of North America and Africa. Ships couldn't leave ports due to the thick cloud of ash that hung in the air around Europe for weeks on end, and many crops failed causing widespread famine. The shortages of food and poverty that the volcano helped cause were one of the key factors that led to the French evolution a few years later in 1789.

As Ireland's airports are shut down by volcanic ash, here's a weird volcanic ash fact for you: the ash thrown into the atmosphere by the 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora, on the island of Sumbawa in Indonesia (then the Dutch East Indies) was indirectly responsible for the birth of the modern horror story. It affected the climate so badly that it caused 1816 to be the 'Year Without A Summer' , making global temperatures plummet and destroying crops. It also meant that romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and his lover, Mary Wollstonecraft, holidaying with Lord Byron by the shores of Lake Geneva, were forced to stay indoors all summer because the weather was so bad. Unable to enjoy their planned outdoor activities, they instead held a contest to see who could tell the scariest story - which resulted in Wollstonecraft writing the classic Frankenstein, and Dr John Polidori writing The Vampyre, the first vampire novel.

No comments: