The icelandic earthquake Eyjafjallajöku erupted a number of times in April and May 2010 causing considerable interference to airplane travel.
According to Wikipedia what made this volcanic activity so disruptive to air travel was the combination of the following four factors:
- The volcano’s location is directly under the jet stream
- The direction of the jet stream was unusually stable at the time of the eruption’s second phase, maintaining a continuous south-easterly heading
- The second eruptive phase took place under 200 m (660 ft) of glacial ice. The resulting meltwater flowed back into the erupting volcano which created two specific phenomena:
- The rapidly vapourising water significantly increased the eruption’s explosive power
- The erupting lava cooled very rapidly, which created a cloud of highly abrasive, glass-rich ash, this caused a large amount of flights to be cancelled in the U.K.
- The volcano’s explosive power was sufficient to inject ash directly into the Jet Stream.
However, just something to put it into perspective as a CO2 emitting event… Whilst there is a degree of difficulty in putting numbers to these events, David McCandless had a go (this one is from 20 April 2010).
http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/2010/planes-or-volcano/ [!sigh! broken link]
David’s book, Information is Beautiful, is on my Amazon wishlist.