Iceland Eruptions

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A POWERFUL SIGHT: Hikers watch lava flow from the erupting Fagradalsfjall volcano, only 36 miles west of Iceland’s capital city, Reykjavík (RAY-kyuh-vik).

This past March, Iceland’s Fagradalsfjall (fah-grah-dahls-feeyaht-el) volcano erupted for the first time in more than 6,000 years. Luckily, most volcanoes in Iceland are not considered particularly dangerous. That’s because they slowly ooze lava instead of violently exploding. This allowed crowds to gather near the base of Fagradalsfjall and safely view the eruption.

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VOLCANO HOT SPOT: There are about 34 active volcanoes in Iceland. These have erupted at least once in the past 10,000 years and could erupt again.

Iceland has many volcanoes because it sits on top of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. This massive underwater mountain chain formed when two tectonic plates—giant slow-moving rock slabs that make up Earth’s crust—began pulling apart. As the plates continue to separate, magma underground rises to fill the space. This molten rock can burst through a crack or vent in Earth’s surface, causing a volcanic eruption.

REUTERS

VOLCANO BBQ: Scientists cook hot dogs on lava from the Fagradalsfjall volcano.

Enikö Bali, a chemist who researches volcanoes at the University of Iceland, hiked 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) to see the bubbling orange lava flow from Fagradalsfjall. “It’s fantastic,” she says. “You can feel the strength of nature.”

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