- September 2014 by Paul Marks
This is pretty hot stuff. A swirling 1-kilometre-high tornado of gas has been caught emerging from the lava pouring out of a fissure on Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano. The image was captured on 3 September by an infrared camera designed for aircraft, to let pilots see volcanic ash clouds.
It is not entirely clear what is causing the tornado, says Fred Prata, inventor of the ash camera at Nicarnica Aviation in Kjeller, Norway.
"The generation mechanism is probably the same as that for dust devils, but in this case the tornado funnel is most likely filled with sulphur dioxide, gas and volcanic ash."
Seismic activity and eruptions around Bardabunga have been occurring since mid-August, but the Icelandic Met Office says the "effusive lava eruptions and fire fountains" – see picture below – currently present no threat to flights.