Holuhraun eruption 85 sqkm lava field, likened to AD1783 and a twist

Posted: February 4, 2015 by tchannon in Accountability, government, Incompetence, volcanos


Image: Sparkle Motion under CC

“We have not seen such levels of gas in Iceland in recent times, not since the Laki eruption in 1783,” said Evgenia Ilyinskaya, a volcanologist with the British Geological Survey studying the Holuhraun emissions.

Wonder what instruments were used 200 years ago?

AlJazeera article, raises fears.. volcanos, it’s what they do.

This eruption is prolonged and is pouring out sulphur so there will be widespread effects.

One that interests me but is played down by certain groups is the key part played by sulphur in agriculture, plants really do need this.

Up until the late 20th century there was little problem in countries who burnt coal and oil. Some time ago elsewhere I highlighted the evidence and acknowledgement of a growing problem, Rothampstead said as much. (primary UK government agricultural research establishment, old, RA Fisher worked there)

And now? Bad people have taken over even breaking the link from FAO, all that is left the last time I looked was muttering about pig manure or somesuch and providing no evidence.

I have managed to find elderly and lacking detail information when there was a great deal of hard data, such as trial plots going back a very long time.


Comparison with earlier years data confirms that the extent of S deficiency in the UK is increasing year by year. Figure 2 indicates current deficiency risk based on soil type, proximity to coal-burning power stations, prevailing wind direction and rainfall.

Coal fired. Then there is no sulphur diesel. I’d take the map as guessing. Any actual data? Note dates.

From Sulphur Requirements of Winter Wheat (HGCA Topic Sheet No.31) Winter 1999/2000… DEFRA

The above refers to DEFRA Topic Sheet 1 “Topic sheets are free”

Note dates on the following




Sulphur is an essential plant nutrient, but one which most cereal farmers could until fairly recently have ignored.It was rarely in short supply as supplies came either from sulphur containing fertilisers or from air pollution resulting from the burning of coal.

Both supplies have now declined and are set to decline further as Britain has to agree to stringent requirements set by the EU for power station emissions.By the year 2003, 23% of the land area of England and Wales is predicted to be at high risk and 50% at medium risk of sulphur deficiency. Figure 1 gives an indication of decline to date and predicted future decline in the emissions of sulphur dioxide in the UK.

Who pays for sulphur addition after paying to take it out and pays in decreased thermal efficiency? Is this really the best we can do?

I wonder if a side effect of major sulphurous emission from volcanoes is going to improve plant growth and is enough, not necessary farmed land, and the effect could conceivably appear in various data not usually linked to such things.

The effect on a plant of dressing on severe deficiency is rapid but damage is damage. No evidence cited, try a  search on suphur deficiency, essentially a worldwide problem and remember the ancient tales about the rich farmland around volcanoes.

A quickie post by Tim, mistakes likely.

  1. […] Holuhraun eruption 85 sqkm lava field, likened to AD1783 and a twist | Tallbloke’s Talkshop. […]

  2. […] comes from the Brits. I wonder if it is affecting the US? Yes it […]

  3. Anything is possible says:

    All your latest eruption information, including SO2 emissions and forecasts can be found here :


  4. tchannon says:

    Yep M Simon, the true extent is I think hidden. For a long time I’ve included trace with growing I do here after finding effects. Excess can leach so as ever there is a balance.
    The one I find fascinating is how bread is affected.

  5. tchannon says:

    AIP, thanks, looks a good one.

  6. colliemum says:

    When the roses planted by a previous owner died in my back garden in the late 1980s, I was told that there never used to be problems with blackspot, which only appeared after it was forbidden to burn ordinary coal in the ordinary fireplaces in this ordinary terrace of small cottages.
    Anecdote – yes. Coincidence? Dunno.

  7. M Simon says:

    Gave you some link love:


    And closed with:

    And what would be causing that? The fight against acid rain. Got to make you ask. What do greens have against plants? They don’t like that other plant food, CO2, much either.

  8. steverichards1984 says:

    In the past, sulphur was supplied to plants through rainfall and fertilisers that contain sulphur as a by-product. But sulphur in rainfall is declining, bringing a risk of sulphur deficiency in crops including cereals, brassicas, peas, oilseed rape and grass. Crop symptoms of sulphur deficiency are hard to tell apart from nitrogen deficiency.

    To assess the risk of sulphur deficiency you will need:

    knowledge of soil type and field location
    a leaf analysis of cereals, oilseed rape and grass
    a soil analysis of sulphur levels”

    from: https://www.gov.uk/fertiliser-recommendations-for-crops

    A good example of the ‘law of unintended consequences’.

  9. Evan HIghlander says:

    Unlinking SCience with Agriculture, ……… Hm, Indeed – How many Agric Universities left to Promote Efficient Agriculture – Crop & Animal Production North of the Humber ? Newcastle ? Edinburgh? Glasgow? Aberdeen? WHat happened to the UNiversity & HND College Farms ? – Sold on for development? Free advice to farmers ? Farmers ? what / how many farmers? Large tracts of land now being Farmed by the EU directives and Contractors doing the work . in it for the Munny!- nevermind the Principles and Years of Education – sold down the river. Carpet Slipper Farmers and Part -timers too – maybe a bit Cruel towards some – but it’s a cruel world
    I have no time to get involved with the Specifics but Educated Observation is good enough for me.