Upstairs-Downstairs: Images of Iceland, From the Ground and From Space

Wrapping around the overall globe, Earth’s most intensive mountain assortment stretches for a lot more

Wrapping around the overall globe, Earth’s most intensive mountain assortment stretches for a lot more than forty,000 miles.

Practically entirely submerged beneath the sea, it can be regarded as the Mid-Ocean Ridge. It is, in essence, a huge seam bordered by mountains where by tectonic plates are pulling aside. New oceanic crust varieties in this article by volcanic activity.

Iceland is 1 of the number of areas where by the ridge rises over the surface, generating it doable to see the impressive impact of geologic processes that typically occur at the bottom of the sea.

Positioned alongside the Mid-Altantic Ridge portion of the globe-girdling mountain assortment, Iceland sits on the boundary among the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. In this article, the plates are pulling aside in an east-west way at a charge akin to how quickly your fingernails mature. Molten rock wells up and fills in the hole, triggering the generation of new crust — and also resulting in 1 of the most volcanically lively regions on Earth.

As my colleague at Discover, Erik Klemetti, writes in a the latest article at his Rocky World weblog, a new eruption could be in the offing in Southern Iceland, though which is a little bit uncertain ideal now.

I was blessed plenty of to pay a visit to Iceland final summertime. Whilst there, I took the picture over of Hverfjall, a tephra cone volcano in the north that erupted about two,five hundred a long time back. The crater has steep, round walls in aspect for the reason that the volcano erupted in close proximity to a shallow lake.


The Landsat eight satellite captured this image of Iceland’s Northern Volcanic Zone on July 26, 2017. Hverfjall is seen to the ideal of Mývatn, a attractive shallow lake that hosts a fantastic range of everyday living. (Resource: NASA Earth Observatory)

You can see that lake, as effectively as Hverfjall, in the view over from place, lately released by NASA’s Earth Observatory. For a high-resolution variation displaying a broader view of this northern portion of Iceland, simply click in this article. Click on once more to take a look at near-up views.

Mývatn, the lake in issue, gets it title from large quantities of midges that breed there. The Mývatn location also hosts “1 of the world’s richest populations of breeding aquatic birds,” according UNESCO. “In all, 115 species of birds have been recorded in the location, like 28 species of ducks.”

View of Mývatn

A hiking path by volcanic formations on west side of the Mývatn. (Resource: © Tom Yulsman)

The attractive waters of Mývatn are seen in the length in this picture shot from a hiking path that wends its way by volcanic formations on east side of the lake.

Mývatn and Hverfjall are located in Icelabnd’s Northern Volcanic Zone. In this article, the whole charge of spreading among the North American and Eurasian plates is occurring, resulting in recurring episodes of rifting and volcanic eruptions.

In the southern aspect of Iceland, the Laki eruption of 1783 poured out a lot more than twelve cubic kilometers of lava — “plenty of to pave the overall U.S. interstate freeway method to a depth of 10 meters,” according to NOAA.

An believed 80 million tons of sulfuric acid aerosol was produced by the eruption — 80 instances a lot more than Mount St. Helens. Haze from the eruption ruined crops and killed most of the island’s livestock, triggering the dying of a lot more than 10,000 Icelanders, a quarter of the populace at that time.

By blocking daylight, the haze brought on wintertime ordinary temperature in the eastern United States to plunge virtually five levels C beneath the prolonged-term ordinary. For the Northern Hemisphere as a full, the drop amounted to about 1 diploma C. To put that in viewpoint, human pursuits have brought on Earth’s ordinary temperature to increase by about the same total.

One thing like that could definitely transpire once more. But most of the time, eruptions are a lot more benign.