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Blog > The volcano effect in Postcrossing

If you follow the news, you probably have heard about the Icelandic volcano that recently caused a major disruption on Europe’s air traffic. The Eyjafjallajökull volcano (don’t worry, we don’t know how to properly pronounce that either) caused huge delays on passengers hoping to fly on the days after its eruption on April 14th.

But why is this relevant here? Because not only passengers got grounded – cargo flights too, and this obviously included mail delivery services; any mail arriving or leaving the affected parts of Europe got delayed. But how much did this really affect the postal services? We couldn’t find any hard data on it, so we decided to measure it ourselves and share it with you.

Below you can see a graph of number of Postcrossing postcards received per week of 2010.

Volcano effect in mail delivery
Postcards received per week (2010)

It’s easy to spot when the Eyjafjallajökull did its thing, isn’t it? We estimate a 26% hiccup on mail delivery because of the volcano. Quite amazing how powerful nature can be.

However, the good news is: mail delivery is back again to its normal speed, judging by last week’s numbers. It’s quite possible that postcards traveling to more far away places might still be affected by this, but the worse part seems to be over, so keep posting! :)

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39 comments so far

pefawm, Norway
It was strange to have nothing from abroud in my mailbox. But i´m glad everything is back to normal.
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Pebbles84, Netherlands
Nice graph! Very interesting to see in what way mail delivery was actually affected :)
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Wildfire, New Zealand
Thanks!!! I really appreciate knowing that it wasn't just my imagination that I didn't get much mail down here in little ole New Zealand that week.
And WOWW - I never quite realised that us Postcrossers sent & recieved so many postcards in a week. The other thing is, that's just 'officials.' There are so many RR's and other swaps too. We are keeping the postal workers of the world very happy!!!!
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Otomodachi, Netherlands
Thanks for the graph! I suspected something like this was going on. I got 4 cards at the same day in my mailbox after the worst was over. I generally LOVE facts & figures, so keep them coming! (even if there is not a volcano eruption :)
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Mundoo, Australia
The effect still hasn't cleared here in Australia. Last week very few postcards. I am having withdrawals :)
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Coffeedoff, United Kingdom
I noticed the difference too! It is good to see the graph.
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LacrimadiLuna, Italy
Thanks a lot! It is really a great effect!
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Hildegarde, Belgium
It affected us all. Great to see this translated in hard data and a graph. I'm very fond of statistics.
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dardo, Spain
I think that I have a greater effect in the mail sent in priority class that always is sent by plane than in the economy class mail.

Now I'll receive more postcard in the mailbox the same day and will be enough compensation for some days with almost no mail.

It's very amazing how the nature can surprise us when we think that nothing cannot surprise us. :)
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Corydoras, Austria
That is really interesting, thanks for the statistics! :D
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fitziane, Egypt
Well, that explains it! Thanks for the data.
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heyjude, United States of America
Great analysis. After a week of empty mailbox several cards came today here in tinian.
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dollart, Finland
The mailbox with out postcards was sad days on volcanic dusk cloud period. Only postcards from my own cards arrieved that week. But it was fun to get mail again after the mail was moving again, nearly 10 official cards in one day in my mailbox, happy again :)
great statistic Paulo!!
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SandyB, South Africa
Thanks for the graph Paulo.

Still slow here in Durban, South Africa--I am suffering from severe withdrawal:-(
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Mafaldasvoice7, Portugal
Yep, I kept receiving postcards here in Portugal, still I have 5 postcards that didn't arrived their destiny yet...strange!
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redlynx, Russia
Yeah, some of my cards are still on their way and my mailbox is mostly empty after those delays - besides the volcano we have specific peculiarities of Russian Post :(
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sabinerusmane, Latvia
I also have some postcards that are still traveling. Their destiny is still unknown, but I guess everything I can do is ... just wait!
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Blogger, United States of America
I agree - Amazing what mother nature can do - I don't know if it will post or not, but here are a few Iceland postcards, two are of major volcano activity from the past -

http://9teen87spostcards.blogspot.com/search/label/Iceland
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Dodd, Taiwan
During that week, I was luck to get addresses and ID in the areas which are not affected by the ash, like Australia, America, ect. So lucky... :p
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shui, Taiwan
Interesting data! Thanks for sharing! :)
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peridotlake1, United States of America
WOW!I tried looking up how to pronounce the valcano name, BUT no luck!
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arewenotman, United States of America
I watch the news in Mexico and the first thing i think was: "Postcrossing gonna get slow". Luckily things back to normal.
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Lori45P, Canada
Really interesting! Thanks for taking time to take a look at the effect on the mail.
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Darla, Germany
quite interesting, thanks for sharing!
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ammy, Singapore
Great post! This illustrates how important international transport is!
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heidrunhlin, Iceland
The name Eyjafjallajökull means;
Eyja=Islands
fjalla=mountains
jökull=glacier.
And it is still active - but now it is not fuming so much ash that trobles the flights.
Mail has found its way via other ways than air -> by sea, by train, by truck and even on foot.. (;
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Hilona, Poland
Great! I was really worried about my travelling postcards! But happily I have also received my first postcrossing card ever!
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Solferino, Australia
The best treatment on the pronunciation of Eyjafjallajökull that I've seen is on Language Log:
http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=2257

I now use it as an expression of frustration whenever something is delayed :)
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WY, Taiwan
The airmail service between Taiwan & Europe was suspended for almost 2 weeks during the volcanic eruption. Finally Taiwan postal authority announced that it resumed from Apr. 26. However, the previous delayed mails must be processed in advance. Anyway, it's glad to know that postal route between Taiwan & Europe returns normal.
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squino, Italy
Sometimes the Nature has to remind us that we are just a little spot on this Planet. Everything natural is wonderful, even a smoky eruption: I keep writing and keep waiting for the next postcards.
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snjokorn, Netherlands
I was so unlucky to post 6 cards on the evening before the eruption... they were supposed to get off the island the day after the eruption began but then there were no flights anymore :-(. It took almost 2 weeks to get my cards to Europe (which normally takes 4-6 days).
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sunshine_girl, Norway
This sounds as good excuse as any why my postcards from Norway is taking FOREVER to get to where they are going, I dont mind the one to Russia or the one China and such places taking forever, but Spain and Finland???? Im pulling my hair out waiting for them to arrive so I can send out more cards.

Funny thing is I keep recieving postcards and everyday there is 1 or 2 postcards waiting for me in my mailbox, even if I now have more recieved than sent cards!!!
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Lorelai, Germany
Thanks for giving us these infos. But the volcano Eyjafjalljökull works on: No Air-traffic over Ireland + Scotland today!
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Dryddha, Spain
I don't know if the volcano has anything to do with it... but a postcard I sent to Russia is about to expire and I have only received one postcard since March! My mailbox is sad... =( And I've heard the volcano is causing trouble again!
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mebertram, United States of America
I guess air traffic must be getting back on track in Europe: after a couple weeks of a sad mailbox (and Postcrosser), there were more than 20 postcards in my mailbox Monday. Yah!
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ThePies, United Kingdom
WOW to Mebertrams cards!
I love the stats too. I would be interested to know if there is going to be one week with a big increase in registered cards now that the post is moving again.
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Shaneez, South Africa
hmmm, seems like the mail may get stuck again, if the new plume of volcanic ash persists over Europe:-((
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Daeriin, Latvia
And I was unlucky to send mine 2 days after the eruption. It's almost a month and they're still traveling. From one part of Europe to another part of Europe that is.
Aaaah, I really hope they are checked as received soon, I want to send some more postcards.
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lim8, Malaysia
^^ Thanks Paulo too for giving this statistic! I think it did affect Malaysia mail delivery services. My mail to pals has been delayed, I think :))) But everything seems to be back to normal now. Happy postcrossing to all friends around the worlds!

Hugs from Malaysia! :-)
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