Bons Baisers d’Islande: Climatic, Environmental, and Human Dimensions Impacts of the Lakagígar Eruption (1783–1784) in Iceland

  • G. R. Demarée
  • A. E. J. Ogilvie


During the year 1783, a haze was spun out like a large veil over much of the Northern Hemisphere, persisting for periods of up to three months. In particular, the summer in Europe and elsewhere was characterized by the appearance of the phenomenon described by many contemporaries as the “great dry fog”. The origin of this was the Lakagígar volcanic eruption (1783–1784) in Iceland. In the non-Icelandic literature, this eruption has often been referred to as the “Laki” eruption. Strictly speaking, this is a misnomer as the eruption did not occur on Mount Laki, but on either side of it. In Iceland it is often called Lakagígar, the “Laki fissure”. (The total length of the Lakagígar crater row, from one end to the other, is 27 km, and it is divided by the Laki mountain into two nearly equal parts.) It is also called Skaftáreldar, the “Skaftá fires” from the river Skaftá in southeast Iceland. One of the two main lava flows from the eruption travelled along the canyon through which the river runs, causing it to dry up. The eruption began in Iceland in early June 1783, and the effects were soon noticed in Europe. However, news of the eruption itself did not reach the continent of Europe until 1 September when it was brought to Copenhagen from Iceland, carried by the vessels of the Danish trading monopoly.


Volcanic Eruption Volcanic Island Contemporary Account Explosive Volcanic Eruption European Newspaper 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. R. Demarée
    • 1
  • A. E. J. Ogilvie
    • 2
  1. 1.Royal Meteorological InstituteBrusselsBelgium
  2. 2.INSTAARUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA

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