Black rivers of meltwater mixed with volcanic ash, spreading from the erupting Eyjafjallajökull volcano (Photograph courtesy Árni Sæberg, Icelandic Coast Guard)


A seven-mile-high (11-kilometer-high) cloud of steam, smoke, and ash billows from Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano on Thursday (Photograph courtesy Árni Sæberg, Icelandic Coast Guard)


Steam explodes from a glacier-topped Iceland volcano (Photograph courtesy Árni Sæberg, Icelandic Coast Guard)


Eyjafjallajökull volcano’s previous eruption. Before dying down on Monday, the vent—shown in a satellite image from March 24 —was a tourist attraction with dramatic lava fountains. (Photo: NASA)

I know how disruptive this eruption has been, and certainly I have reason to be concerned since my partner David is scheduled to fly to London via Reykjavík this weekend. But the images of the volcano are spellbinding. There is something other worldly about black rivers, gorgeously concupiscent plumes of smoke and vapor, the enormousness of it all. Like the extraordinary shots of Jupiter’s Io taken by NASA, I look at these and have a feeling of lightheadedness, of witnessing as a disembodied, floating, weightless energy.


Jupiter moon, Io (Photo: NASA)

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