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Geostory: Iceland

Iceland is a volcano on steroids. Not only is it the highest peak of the longest mountain chain on Earth (the mid-Atlantic ridge), it is also a volcanic hot spot. This volcanic island is building up as deep sources of magma rise from great depths and erupt on to Earth's surface. At the same time Iceland is being torn apart as the tectonic plates it straddles slowly pull apart from each other causing even more volcanic eruptions.

The 1783 Laki eruption was responsible for killing 20-25% of the Icelandic population, >20,000 people were poisoned by volcanic gases in Europe, and it caused global climate change that led to famines, droughts & flooding throughout the Northern Hemisphere.

During the summer of 2015 I explored part of southern Iceland, scuba dived into a divergent tectonic boundary, hiked through glacial valleys, and climbed wind ravaged volcanic slopes. It is a starkly beautiful country that is always awaiting the next eruption.

Those that live in Iceland respect the power of nature and know that another earthquake or eruption will occur, and they have proven their willingness to react to save their lives, and their homes when possible.

In the background of the picture below is a town, mostly saved in 1973 by the villagers who spent days spraying sea water on lava flows erupting from the Eldfell volcano I am standing upon. They successfully stopped the lava flows, but Icelanders know that the island they live upon would not exist without the millions of years of eruptions that are far from over.

Nicole Myers

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