It was, of course. The island was born out of the sea eons ago due to a violent submarine explosion. It sits atop the mid-Atlantic rift and is the most volcanically active place on earth. Flows of lava regularly add to the land due to new eruptions both above and beneath the sea. Wholly new islands, such as Surtsey in 1963, have been thrown up out of the ocean. On the other hand, numerous active volcanoes, such as Hekla and Katla, cover the island. Their recurrent eruptions have been recorded since the Norsemen arrived in the ninth century. Vatnajökull and Eyjafjallajökull of recent memory (2010) are examples of glacier-covered volcanoes, giving Iceland the name of the “Land of Ice and Fire.” Eruptions of these ice-capped volcanoes understandably lead to massive flooding.
The volcanic activity beneath Iceland’s surface naturally heats the water in the depths of the earth giving rise to spouting geysers, boiling mud, hot springs (of varying temperatures) and mystical looking steam rising from the land. In Iceland, this hot water is harnessed to heat homes and businesses, cultivate plants in hot houses, generate electricity, and even warm outdoor swimming pools to name a few.
|Geysir at Hveragerði|
According to an old brochure distributed by Icelandair in the early ‘70’s, Iceland a World of Difference, “There are more than 700 natural hot springs in Iceland, either boiling or warm, down by the seaside, up in the valleys, or high in the ice fields themselves . . . The most famous and remarkable of all the hotsprings is the Great Geysir (Gusher), which spouts a column of boiling water and steam to a height of more than 150 feet.” Unfortunately, we never had a chance to see its spectacle, but did delight in the displays of other smaller ones.
|Courtesy Bill Large|
Eden, Hveragerði’s Greenhouse and Gift Shop for Tourists 1973
(Mr. KK holding our toddler, center)
|The kids having fun at Eden Gift Shop, Hveragerði 1974|
Sadly, Eden burned down, July 22, 2011.
|Camping at Lake Mývatyn with Bill & Anna|
We camped toward evening looking out on the lake, grilled dinner, enjoyed the camaraderie of our friends, and thought how perfect a spot this was and that we must come again. But, when we poked our heads out of our tents the next morning, we were beset by a black cloud of a kazillion little midges. They were in our eyes, our mouths, absolutely everywhere. We stuffed our panicked kids into the car, tore down the tents as fast as we could and headed into the town of Akureyri. We later learned that Mývatn translates to “fly (midge) lake”!
For a timeline of volcanic eruptions in Iceland dating back to approximately 900 A. D. visit:
To view current information on Iceland’s individual volcanoes — the scale of their activity or dormancy, including live webcam’s of each — visit: