None of which means that we can't try to understand things a little bit better. A couple years ago we ran down a vulcanology vacation that tourists could take in Hawaii to learn more about how volcanoes work. And if you missed that, now you can read this nowhere-near-as-fun new study on how and why volcanoes like Eyjafjallajokull erupt the way they do:
The scientists found that pre-eruptive mixing within the magma chamberwhere older cooler magma mixed with younger hotter magmaappears to be the repeating trigger in large-scale eruptions... "The very presence of mushy nodules in the pyroclastic deposits suggests that the magma chamber empties itself during the eruption, and the chamber then collapses in on itself forming the caldera,” says co-author of the study, Dr Tom Gernon.
So now you know. The eventual goal is to use the signatures that the scientists discoveredthe nodules that seem to form right before a catastrophic eruptionto predict those eruptions in advance. Then scientists could warn airlines, and airlines could do their best to adjust accordingly.
Of course we're years away from that happening, and so in the meantime all you get out of this study is a little bit of knowledge. But that's OK because knowing is half the battle.