A robust method to detect volcanic ash, using data from the infrared channels of the Spinning Enhanced Visible and Infrared Imager instrument mounted on-board Meteosat Second Generation, is presented. The simultaneous retrieval of quantitative volcanic ash physical properties using a one-dimensional variational analysis framework is also described. These methods are demonstrated using data from the Icelandic Eyjafjallajökull eruption in 2010. Sensitivity experiments are presented which show that the retrieved quantities are strongly dependent on the choice of ash refractive index data used in the retrieval scheme's radiative transfer model. Validation of the retrieved properties is carried out against lidar data, which demonstrate that the retrievals are realistic, and which indicate the most suitable refractive index data sets to use for these cases.