Iceland is known for many things, their hot springs and lagoons, their beautiful and dramatic landscape, a location where the Northern lights can be seen, and amazingly a unique breed of horse. However, it is most prominently known for its volcanoes. Many remember the eruption of the volcano Eyjafjallajöjull in March and April 2010. Challenging to spell, and even more challenging to pronounce. The eruption had a huge impact, not only on the Iceland, but on Europe as well, grounding 17,000 flights a day.
Iceland is home to roughly 130 active and inactive volcanoes, and currently has 30 active volcanic systems running through the island. This is due to Iceland’s location on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the boundary between the North American and Eurasian plates. This is a divergent tectonic plate boundary located on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean, meaning that the two plates are pulling away from one another. The Mid-Atlantic Ridge can best be seen at Thingvellir National Park.
The staggering statistic of volcanic activity may seem daunting to some, leading one to question why anyone would want to live on such an island. However, the Icelandic people have truly capitalised on their volcanic activity.
The hot springs located in Iceland have been used as swimming pools by both locals and tourists. The average temperature of the geothermal pools is around 37-39˚C, and the waters are rich in minerals such as silica and sulphur.
The volcanic nature of Iceland is useful for more than just creating swimming pools. Iceland relies on fossil fuels for just 0.1% of their energy supply, 26.2% is supplied through the use of geothermal power plants and 73.8% is generated by hydroelectric power. With their location, it is possible for the country to rely 100% on green energy sources, by further capitalisation on geothermal springs.
Iceland is an incredible place. Its physical landscape is stunning, the processes that have shaped and continue to shape Iceland are fascinating, and their use of such processes, genius. It is a country we recommend visiting.
Until next time,
The Geography Duo