Iceland, aptly named 'the land of fire and ice', is one of the most striking places on our planet. This frozen landscape is set right on top of a volcanic melting pot, which is evident in the fountains of scalding water and explosions of molten lava that escapes the crust. The end result is a landscape of stark and fiery beauty.
The country regained its independence in 1944, after having been previously ruled by Denmark, Norway and briefly by Britain. It then became embroiled in several 'cod wars' with Britain and Germany; endured one of the worst economic crashes in the recession, welcomed the world's first openly gay and first female prime minister, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir. Iceland caused havoc throughout the world of aviation when volcano Eyjafjallajökull erupted in 2010.
The eruption was rated as a 1 on the Volcanic Explosivity Index when it began on March 20, 2010, and then entered a second phase on April 14, 2010, creating an ash cloud that led to the closure of most of the European IFR airspace from 15 until 20 April 2010. Consequently, a very high proportion of flights within, to, and from Europe were cancelled, creating the highest level of air travel disruption since the Second World War.
Now experts have warned that Iceland’s town of Grindavik faces a catastrophic countdown to a volcanic eruption that could see its destruction.
Almost 4,000 people were evacuated from Grindavik over the weekend as authorities feared that molten rock would rise to the surface of the earth and potentially hit the coastal town and a geothermal power station.
It comes as the country has been shaken by more than 880 small earthquakes, prompting fears that the tremors could disrupt the Fagradalsfjall volcano on the Reykjanes peninsula in the southwest of the country.
Lava flows from an eruption of the Fagradalsfjall volcano on the Reykjanes Peninsula in southwestern Iceland on Tuesday, May 11, 2021
Iceland is highly susceptible to natural disasters because it lies on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge – a divergent plate boundary where the North American Plate and the Eurasian Plate are moving away from each other, leading to volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.
Three eruptions have taken place on the peninsula of Reykjanes near the Fagradalsfjall volcano in the last three years: in March 2021, August 2022 and July 2023.
However, previous eruptions did not cause damage, having occurred in remote valleys.
As Iceland waits in trepidation for the looming volcanic eruption, we take a look at some of the biggest volcanic eruptions in the last decade:
2022: Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai
Located in the southern Pacific Ocean, the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai eruption in January 2022 saw a plume of rock and ash shoot a staggering 58km high into the sky.
It was the biggest atmospheric explosion to be recorded by modern tools, with a volcanic cloud so large it could be seen by astronauts orbiting on the International Space Station.
The violent explosion triggered a devastating tsunami with waves up to 45m high.
2021: Mount Semeru
On 4 December, 2021, Mount Semeru erupted on one of Indonesia’s most populated island, Java.
Semeru, the tallest mountain on Java, threw up towers of ash and hot clouds on Saturday that blanketed nearby villages in East Java province and sent people fleeing in panic.
Authorities have said that the eruption destroyed buildings and severed a strategic bridge connecting two areas in the nearby district of Lumajang with the city of Malang.
Lava hisses down Java’s Mount Semeru, which erupted on 4 December 2
The Taal volcano in the Philippines slept for 43 years before it rumbled into a violent awakening on 12 January 2020.
Tens of thousands were sent into shelter and a total of 39 people died as a result of this eruption of Taal, although only one reported case was directly caused by the eruption.
Excerpts taken from article Provided by The Independent
About the Creator
Very well written. Keep up the good work!
Expert insights and opinions
Arguments were carefully researched and presented