The drift of ash spewing out of a volcano under a glacier in Iceland erupted grounded air travel in and out of the United Kingdom Thursday.

Ash can cause partial or total power loss in the engines of airplanes. But such seismic activity should not hinder securities firms and other enterprises from building data centers on Iceland, says Ronald H. Bowman, executive vice president at Tishman Technologies in New York who helps companies build data centers there.

"Cooler heads prevail,'' in cases like this, Bowman said Thursday.

There is a certain "shock and awe" when ash grounds planes at major airports. But siting a data center properly can avoid, literally, the fallout of seismic activity.

Proper siting of a data center mitigates the effects of ground shaking or particulates being thrust into the air. In the case of nuclear power plants, for instance, there is a "kill zone" of roughly 50 miles that a data center manager would avoid locating.

The same is true, basically, in the case of volcanoes. Even on Iceland, you can locate 50 miles away from known seismic activity. You also would avoid locating upwind.

And beyond that, there are filters. For a 50,000-square-foot facility, the cost of filters capable of blocking particulates such as ash probably adds about $3.5 million to the cost.

But that cost is more than paid back in a case such as Iceland, by the savings on basically free cooling from the ice. There also are tax and other savings that still work in the island's favor, for 90 percent of a financial firm's data operations, he maintains.

If data center operators couldn't mitigate the effects of the earth shaking, they wouldn't set up shop in California. That is the state with the most earth movement. And the state, he notes, with the most data centers.

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