Volcanoes and the UK — what you can do

Icebergs and proglacial lake Jokulsarton, Breiðamerkarjökull on the southern side of Vatnajokull, southern Iceland. Volcanic eruptions
In the event of an eruption in Iceland, ash and other volcanic emissions may impact the UK.
Ash on a car. Image © Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA). Why do we need your help?
If ash and/or other volcanic emissions reach the UK, we need you to collect samples and observations to help us learn about the nature of the eruption.
myVolcano How can you help?
Collect samples and observations using myVolcano or our website.

What's happening?

In the event of a volcanic eruption in Iceland that may result in ash and/or other volcanic emissions reaching the UK, we'll update the BGS website and the @BGSVolcanology Twitter feed. When the Icelandic Met Office (IMO) raises (or decreases) the aviation colour code, we will send out information through social media.

The best place for up-to-date information on an Icelandic volcano unrest or eruption is the IMO website. There is additional information at The University of Iceland's Institute of Earth Sciences.

What we need from you

As we can't be everywhere at once, we need you to get out and make some observations of volcanic impacts in the UK. For example:

  • If you can see ash falling, what can you see? Can you smell anything too? Is there a haze in the air? How high is it — above the trees or near the ground?
  • Is there a lot of ash falling? Is it lying on your or a neighbour's car?

Just this information and your location will tell us a lot about the how far volcanic emissions have travelled, where and how much of the UK is being impacted by the volcanic eruption.

If you can, send us your photos too, and if you can collect an ash sample we could look at it under the microscope and learn about the type of eruption and the processes going on in the ash cloud and atmosphere.

In 2011, we learnt a lot from samples sent in by the British public about the Grímsvötn eruption. View Grímsvötn volcano ash images and Grímsvötn 2011 ash collection findings.

See also UK monitoring and deposition of tephra from the May 2011 eruption of Grímsvötn, Iceland.

Collecting ash samples and general observations

If you've downloaded the myVolcano app now's the time to use it!

Send in your photographs and descriptions of volcanic ash, haze and other observations — remember, the best place to look for ash is on your car windscreen, plant leaves or any clean surface off the ground.

If there's enough ash to collect, then send us a sample following these simple guidelines.

If you haven't got the app, don't worry; you can simply collect a sample following the method described in our ash sampling webpage or others described in the video and send us your sample.

When you collect a sample remember to record the start and end dates and times between which you collected the sample, so that we know exactly when the sample was collected and can relate it to specific eruption episodes.

You can submit photographs and descriptions of ash falland other volcanic emissions online on the myVolcano app web version.

Download myVolcano.

What do you get in return?

If you send us your contact details, we will send you preliminary results of analyses of the samples and observations we receive, and you will be contributing to valuable scientific research.


Contact Julia Crummy, Katy Mee or Sue Loughlin for more information on collecting observations and samples.