Showing posts from September, 2022

Two More Volcanoes: Two Towns Half Buried

  As you fly towards Iceland from Europe, or as you drive along the Ring Road from Reykjavík to Vík, you see a group of cubic islands, which look like poker dice tossed into the sea by some gambling troll.  These are the Westman Islands, and they contain two volcanoes of note. One is the island of Surtsey, which is the westernmost die. This thrust itself out of the sea to form an island in 1963 in a spectacular eruption that lasted four years.  The island covered one square mile right after the eruption finished, but has already halved in size with erosion. Scientists are trying to keep the island pristine to study how life takes hold on a brand-new chunk of land, but according to the Christian Science Monitor an ‘improperly handled human defecation event’ resulted in a tomato sprouting on the island. It has been removed. Heimaey The other volcano takes up half of the biggest Westman Island, Heimaey. The other half is taken up by quite a large fishing port, with a population of about f

Hekla and Katla: Rearranging Iceland over the Centuries

  There have been about thirty volcanoes active in Iceland since the Norse settlers arrived.  The island was created only twenty million years ago. It stands on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a chain of mostly underwater mountains created by volcanic activity as the European and North American continental plates rip apart from each other. In Iceland, the volcanoes reach the surface, where they simmer, bubble and occasionally explode. Let me introduce you to some of them. We have already met Snaefellsjökull , the prettiest of them all with its almost perfect cone and its topping of ice, that hovers above Snaefellsnes. It is taking a nap at the moment - the last time it erupted was about AD 200. Hekla: Iceland's busiest volcano We have also met the most active, Hekla. This is sited just to the north of Eyjafjallajökull, and can be clearly seen from sixty miles away. It is nearly classically volcano-shaped - a cone with hunched shoulders - but the summit is actually a line of craters covered