Crisis Coordination and Communication During the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull Eruption

Deanne K. Bird*, Guðrún Jóhannesdóttir, Víðir Reynisson, Sigrún Karlsdóttir, Magnús T. Gudmundsson, Guðrún Gísladóttir

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Eyjafjallajökull became Iceland’s most infamous volcano in 2010 when the ash cloud from its summit eruption caused unprecedented disruption to the international aviation industry and considerable challenges to local farming communities and villages. The summit eruption, which began on 14 April 2010, was preceded by a 24-day long effusive flank eruption that produced spectacular fire-fountain activity and lava flows. The 39-day long summit eruption, however, was far more explosive and resulted in medium-sized jökulhlaups to the north, small jökulhlaups and lahars to the south and considerable ash fall to the east and east-southeast of the volcano. As in other crises in Iceland, the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management (DCPEM) coordinated efforts and facilitated crisis communication, while collaborating with the Icelandic Meteorological Office, the Institute of Earth Sciences at the University of Iceland and the National Crisis Coordination Centre. The DCPEM’s role included providing information to the government and its various agencies and feeding information from scientists to local police officials, civil protection committees and the public. Communication with local residents took place through agencies’ websites, the national media and frequent open town hall meetings where representatives of institutions responsible for eruption monitoring, health, safety and livestock handling provided advice. These face-to-face meetings with local residents were critical as ash fall had not affected these areas for over 60 years and plans for dealing with this hazard were not established. This chapter explores these events and in doing so, provides a narrative of crisis coordination and communication in Iceland. The narrative is based on multiple sources, including an analysis of community perspectives of the emergency response and their use and views of the various forms of communication platforms. The chapter also considers the eruptions’ impacts at the local level. This exploration reveals that the trust developed through close communication between all involved prior to and during the eruption increased the effectiveness of crisis communication. The experience gained from the Eyjafjallajökull eruption is important for volcanic crisis communication at a local and international level. While the immediate evacuation plans were effective, the ash fall problems illustrated the need for necessary precautions and broadly defined preparedness strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationObserving the Volcano World.
Subtitle of host publicationVolcano Crisis Communication
EditorsC. Fearnley, D. Bird, G. Jolly, K. Haynes, B. McGuire
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media Deutschland GmbH
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Publication series

NameAdvances in Volcanology
ISSN (Print)2364-3277
ISSN (Electronic)2364-3285

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, The Author(s).


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