By Jim Brace-Thompson
Iceland is an island nation sitting directly astride the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. This ridge is an extremely long crack in the Earth’s shell separating North and South America from Europe and Africa. Periodically, lava wells up along this ridge. This pushes the “New World” ever-so-slightly away from the “Old World” an inch at a time while making Iceland just a little bit larger in the midst of volcanic havoc.
In reports about Iceland earlier this year, I told of as many as 2,500 earthquakes a day striking the southwestern region of the Reykjanes Peninsula. As it turned out, all this seismic activity was a precursor to the opening of a fissure near an old volcano called Fagradalsfjall that had last erupted 800 years ago. By March 19, 2021, that fissure was 1,600 feet long, and lava had begun to flow. Per a report on the television show 60 Minutes on May 22, 2021, that lava continues to flow and shows no sign of stopping.
Once the fissure opened, several vents and craters formed, but most became more-or-less dormant. The one that has grown and grown and grown and that remains exceedingly active has been dubbed Geldingadalir, or Iceland’s newest volcano! It is actively spewing forth both a lava fountain and an immense lava flow that lights up the night sky and that is covering ancient Viking burial grounds.
Geldingadalir also has become Iceland’s newest tourist destination. Icelanders by the thousands have flocked to gawk and take selfies near advancing lava flows in the Nátthagi valley. Some have even been cooking hot dogs atop hot lava! In checking the Internet for this article, I’ve run across an advertisement listing the eruption—located just 20 miles from the capital city of Reykjavik—as a prime attraction for a “Volcano Weekend” in June, starting at “just” $2,390 out of New York City. The advertisement invites you to “walk the volcano.” If volcanoes are your thing, and if you’ve never seen one in action, best sign up now!
Author: Jim Brace-Thompson
Jim began and oversees the AFMS Badge Program for kids and has been inducted into the National Rockhound & Lapidary Hall of Fame within their Education Category.
Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.