Here’s a close-up of the thick plume of volcanic ash that traveled 6.2 miles (10 km) up into the air and drifted around the globe after the Puyehue-Cordón Caulle eruption, causing airports as far away as Buenos Aires and Melbourne to close. More devastating, however, were the consequences for the surrounding environment: the temperature of the nearby Nilahue River rose to 45 °C (113 °F), killing about 4.5 million fish; and, after five years of drought suffered by two provinces in Argentina, the remaining usable farmland was destroyed, endangering 750,000 sheep and 60,000 cattle.
9. Eyjafjallajökull, Iceland, 2010
Many people remember the eruption of the Icelandic volcano with the unpronounceable name that affected the schedules of so many flights – and the travel plans of hundreds of thousands of travelers – in northwestern Europe in 2010. Here we can see the large ash plume spreading out over the North Atlantic on April 17, a plume that rose 5.6 miles (9 km) into the air.
On May 13, 2010, the area surrounding Eyjafjallajökull appeared to be covered by a blanket of smoke, ash and clouds, as this dramatic image shows. It’s hard to believe that a week-and-a-half later, the situation – which caused the highest level of disruption to air travel since World War Two – had calmed down considerably. By May 24, Eyjafjallajökull was emitting only steam and sulfurous gases and appeared to be dormant. At least for the time being.