The plume of ash that spread from the eruption of volcano Eyjafjallajökull, South Iceland, in 2010 increased the iron concentrations at the ocean’s surface, which helps spur the growth of phytoplankton, a basis of the food chain, by about 20 to 45 percent.
The Eyjafjallajökull eruption. Photo: Páll Stefánsson/Iceland Review.
Marine biogeochemist Eric Achterberg from the University of Southampton and his colleagues took part in research in the Iceland Basin region during and after the eruption, livescience.com reports.
According to Achterberg, it was the first time that scientists had been able to research the immediate effects of ash falling into the ocean.
At the same time, nitrate levels were almost depleted, suggesting that the higher amounts of phytoplankton consumed the nutrient.
Carbon dioxide uptake by phytoplankton was found to have increased by 10 to 20 percent, considered a blow to geoengineering schemes which aim to reduce CO2 by adding large amounts of iron to the world’s oceans.
Achterberg and his colleagues published their findings in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.