It’s Science Wednesday! For several weeks, Icelanders had been bracing themselves for a volcanic eruption of some sort, given the island recorded more than 50,000 recent earthquakes! A few days ago – on March 19 – a new fissure (linear volcanic vent through which lava erupts) finally opened up. This occurred on the Reykjanes Peninsula, located on the southwestern part of Iceland, near Fagradalsfjall Volcano. This volcano had been dormant for 6,000 years and this eruption marks southwestern Iceland’s first in about 800 years. In the last few days, a spatter cone (a cone of cooling lava fragments) has formed and you can see it for yourself here, on livestream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BA-9QzIcr3c
It is fascinating to see nature at work here. Iceland is such a unique island and one of the most volcanically dynamic places on the planet given that it is not only located above a “hotspot” (a plume of magma), but it’s also situated along the Mid-Atlantic ridge (a divergent plate boundary) which is pulling apart the North American and European plates. In fact, there are places in Iceland (e.g., Silfra) where you can go scuba-diving or snorkeling and touch both tectonic plates at the same time!