Friday, June 22, 2012

Iceland's Vestmannaeyjar Archipelago

Elliðaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland

Perhaps you remember I posted this picture a while ago commenting that I liked its seclusion. You might also remember I posted about Google image search where you can drag and drop a photo and find out where it came from. I did that with this picture and discovered what is known as The Vestmannaeyjar Archipelago in Southern Iceland.

Like Iceland needed any more things to make it awesome!

It's an archipelago of about 15 islands and 20 cliffs.  That isolated house up there is on one of these islands.


Iceland is sitting on a hotbed of volcanic activity and its archipelagos are volcanically formed over hotspots in the earth's crust. 

The European tectonic plate crashes head on with the North American plate in the mid Atlantic. The Mid-Atlantic Ridge is the debris from that smash up also known as a series of mountains on the sea floor running north to south deep underwater. Iceland is unique because it is the only place where this plate boundary is visible above water.

Which makes Iceland awesome. It's like you have a little glimpse of what's happening way, way down on the ocean floor where only James Cameron can go.

The Vestmannaeyjar Archipelago

How does volcanic activity form Archipelagos? 

It is a combination of volcanic activity combined with tectonic movement. Magma bloops - yes, bloops - out of a hot spot on the sea bed and continues to build up layers, like volcanoes do when they're on land, until it starts peaking out of the water. Voila! Island. If this volcanic activity is consistent, then the magma will continue to bloop out of the hot spot even when the tectonic plates shift over a bit. It just starts building another island. Eventually a whole chain of islands form and depending on the volcanic activity, they will vary in size. Like Hawaii, for a perfect example.

Iceland exists solely because of volcanoes. 

Most of the islands have vertical sides

You can see a cone on this island



This is the island from the first picture. It's much bigger than I thought
  





The southernmost island, Surtsey, is the latest addition, created during the longest historic eruption of the country in 1963-1967. I plan to do more posts about Iceland because, well, Iceland! but I plan to post specifically about the island of Surtsey and the wealth of information the recent formation of this island has given us.

The only inhabited island, Heimaey, was struck by an unexpected eruption in 1973 and all the inhabitants had to be evacuated immediately.

The Islanders base their livelihood on the fisheries and fish processing and tourism. Most of the islands have steep-sided cliffs down to the sea and are difficult to approach and land, except by experienced climbers. Many of the islands have vertical sides, but grass does grow on their tops. Birds and eggs are something of perk for the residents, and each year there is a large bird hunt, especially of the puffin bird or "lundi".

3 comments:

Tonya said...

I want to learn more about Iceland, but I'm woefully behind in my Canada lessons.

Anonymous said...

I really wish you'd quit posting pics of my house. I'm quite private.

Ann

Frimmy said...

You're gonna really hate my next post where I show pictures of your cottage property.