Volcano Shockwaves Shred Atmosphere: Video

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Oh Eyjafjallajokull, what a journey it has been — in March you sprang on the scene, entertaining us with your dazzling fire fountains. Then you posed in front of the Aurora Borealis. You even sat quietly as we cooked hotdogs on your hearth.

We all know what happened next. In one fell swoop, you — a small volcano from southern Iceland — captured the world’s attention by single-handedly grounding air traffic across Europe. You cost the world hundreds of millions of dollars, you humbled modern society… all without much more than a volcanic burp.

As if you hadn’t given the world enough, Eyjafjallajokull, you have simply outdone yourself this time. In a video shot on Tuesday, the ash cloud had dissipated enough to give us a front row seat for your brand new, world-class fireworks show, complete with shock waves that bent the very air around you:

A shock wave forms when gas, air or other material is accelerated so fast that surrounding air can’t get out of the way, and it’s compressed. It usually takes a jet fighter or a bomb to create something like this.

As you can see, the volcano rips them off like they’re bubble gum. This series of outbursts isn’t uncommon — they’re called strombolian eruptions, and they are good news for airplanes, because they typically produce more lava than ash.

We’ve seen behavior similar to this before, but nothing on this kind of jaw-dropping scale. Incredible.

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