Monday, March 22, 2010

Active Iceland

As reported in various news reports (such as here and here and here), the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in southern Iceland triggered the orderly evacuation of over 600 people from neighbouring towns, the closure of roads and the temporary shutdown of air services into Iceland. While the country is well prepared for such exceptional natural forces, with no-one being killed or injured, it highlights the extraordinary natural travel wonder that the island nation of Iceland is. A fissure nearly a kilometre wide spews ash and lava into the wintry Icelandic atmosphere as shown in photos of the various news services. Generously covered with glaciers, the small island is bisected by the edges of two continental plates causing regular volcanic activity across the country – literally, the country of fire and ice.

Travelling there some years ago, I can recall the landscape being explained in terms of various volcanic eruptions and lava flows. Around Hekla, various rough black stripes crisscross the splotchy panorama, each caused by one of the twenty or more eruptions over the last 1000 years. Small tinges of green colour the older flows as life fights the harsh weather to regenerate. A specialist describes “the green tinged area is from the eruption of 1845, while the darker flow to your right is from 1947”. He continues “Further over there is the lava flow from 1991…” – an ebony charred highway of lava with no sign of life. The entire history of the area is told in eruptions.

More scary is the description of the formation of Asbyrgi, an other-worldly forested area with sheer basaltic walls. While tales are told of Odin’s eight-legged horse leaving footprints in Norse mythology, scientists claim a volcano underneath a glacier caused a mass rapid melting of an ice sheet. The tidal wave of melt water gouged a path through the rocky terrain leaving the harder rocky walls, sweeping the softer rock away with an awesome natural display of primeval power.

Throughout Iceland, areas of activity are on constant show as Iceland slowly pulls itself apart, mud bubbling among steamy fissures – the sulphuric gases wafting for miles around.

The world’s finest vulcanologists continue to monitor the 2200-plus known volcanoes for undue activity – ready at a moment’s notice to report a threat and protect the population of this extraordinary natural wonderland. Maybe no other nation is being so clearly shaped by the incredible forces of nature as the unsettled Earth’s crust vents its fury every few years on this naturally beautiful and wild island nation.

Source: map

Other Icelandic Posts
Lake of Dancing Icebergs
Astride the Continents
Nature’s Wonderland
Icelandic Phonebook Surprise
Remote Sign


Heather on her travels said...

I'm facinated by that bright green vegetation. At least all that volcanic activity makes for some great hot water spas

jasperjugan said...

very nice.. splending capture as always.. i miss reading your blogs because i lost the links.. good to find this again

Anil said...

A place in complete flux - the name "Iceland" doesn't do it justice!

Lifecruiser Travel Blog said...

Yes, it's truly the land of fire and ice... and yet, it's one of my favorite destinations!!! So magical. It's like being on another planet!!!

Mark H said...

@heather: Their vegetation is very green - rich soils, lots of moisture and the stark black backgrounds all assist.

@jaspenjugan: Welcome back.

@anil: One of my favourite places in the world. Sadly it is a bloody long way away from Australia.

@lifecruiser: It is very other-worldly. Can you understand their language?

Vera Marie Badertscher said...

You have made me SO want to go to Iceland. What an incredible place. And then there's the ponies, and the Viking settlements and more and more...

BarbaraW said...

Hi mark. I had not heard about the eruption in Iceland because I haven't even had Internet for a week, but glad to hear there was an orderly evacuation without anyone being hurt. Iceland is definitely a spectaclar land.

Gourmantic said...

There's something to be said for the opposing forces of nature when ice and fire can somehow coexist.

The eruptions remind me of my visit to Hawaii's Big island and walking around a live volcano.

Sherry Ott said...

Wow, I had no idea. It sort of reminds me of New Zealand in some ways - but much more unique. What beautiful beckons me with my wide angle lens!!

Mark H said...

@vera: One of my favourite places.

@barbara: Sometimes it is nice to escape from the general news.

@gourmantic: I think the opposing forces of heat and cold is what makes the place so remarkable.

@sherry: It does have of NZ in it to me too.

Donna Hull said...

I've always wanted to visit Iceland. Your photos and description of the volcanic activity are enticing me to move the trip further up my "to visit" list.

Mark H said...

@donna: It was one of the finest countries I've ever visited - amazing views of glaciers and boiling earth, stunning birdlife, glorious mountains and a simply wild environment. The people were reserved but friendly as well. The whole place truly enchanted me.

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