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Iceland's fireworks warn of devastating supervolcano

Every so often the Earth chooses to remind us that we really aren't in control of this planet. The volcanic eruption in Iceland, which began on Wednesday, is just such a reminder. As ash spews out across northern Europe, grounding all flights across Scandinavia and the UK, we begin to realise how powerless we humans are.

But as volcanic eruptions go, the fireworks on Iceland are small fry. Scientists rank volcanoes according to how explosive they are, using the volcanic explosivity index (VEI), which goes from zero to eight.

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