Joseph LicciardiDCL

May 20, 2010 -- Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull seems to know no bounds when it comes to amazing us. On May 1 geologist Joseph Licciardi of the University of New Hampshire could barely believe his eyes as he snapped these amazing images of the volcano blowing a ring of steam and gas high into the air.

Volcano photographers captured images of a similar event at Italy's Mt. Etna in 2000, but despite good documentation, Licciardi said that just how the rings form remains a mystery. It's possible that bursts of gas through narrow vents would do the job, much like cigar or cigarette smokers blow rings with their mouths.

"The ring lasted about 5 minutes or so before dissipating," Licciardi told Discovery News. "The apparent fact that Eyjafjallajokull has blown only one observed smoke ring in the past month or so seems to indicate that this is an exceedingly rare occurrence during the present eruption. I feel incredibly fortunate to have witnessed it!"


Readers will recall the two-month long eruption first went through a lazy, picturesque phase before bursting into headlines with an ash cloud that grounded the Europe's commercial air fleet. It's been one heck of a ride -- and if the volcano's track record is any indication, it may be a long time before Eyjafjallajokull is done with us.