Eruption of Laki Volcano in Iceland

On 8 June 1783 a fissure eruption began on the Laki volcanic mountain ridge in south-eastern Iceland that would continue for several months. Gigantic explosions caused a gigantic haze cloud containing droplets of hydrofluoric and sulphuric acid to spread across much of the northern hemisphere, obscuring the sun for the rest of the summer. The effects of the eruption continued with an extreme 1783–84 winter, one of the coldest on record in North America.

The Laki eruptions are considered to be among the worst disasters in modern history, killing more than one fifth of Iceland’s population of around 50,000 and causing widespread famine across Europe as its haze destroyed crops, killed animals, and contaminated European soils.

Further Readings: 
  • Behringer, Wolfgang. Kulturgeschichte des Klimas: Von der Eiszeit bis zur Globalen Erwärmung. Munich: C.H. Beck, 2007.
  • de Castella, Tom. "The Eruption that Changed Iceland Forever." BBC News Magazine April 16, 2010. Online
  • Thordarson, Thor and Stephen Self. "Atmospheric and Environmental Effects of the 1783–1784 Laki Eruption: A Review and Reassessment." Journal of Geophysical Research 108, no. D1 (2003). doi:10.1029/2001JD002042 Also available here