Iceland: Fire and Ice Essay

Submitted By ashlynkrista91
Words: 941
Pages: 4

Iceland, an Island just below the Arctic Circle is located between Europe and North America in the North Atlantic Ocean. The Island was first discovered by Nordic and Irish people in the 9th Century, discovering that the Island had offered a wealth of natural wonders. The landscape is characterized by wide glaciers, active volcanoes, fjords, waterfalls and numerous geothermic springs and geysers making Iceland one of the most geographically active areas in the world. Iceland has an area of 103,000 square kilometers with a population of approximately 320,000 people. Being beneath the Arctic Circle and given the name “Iceland” gives the wrong impression of its name because Iceland does not only consist of ice but, also has some of the most volatile volcanoes in the world. Iceland is known as “The land of fire and ice” for various reasons; most importantly, because many of the active volcanoes are uniformly covered by glaciers and ice.
Due to Iceland's location, the mid-arctic ridge on a divergent tectonic plate boundary has a high concentration of active volcanoes. Iceland sits on both sides of the ridge, which is the entire part of the ridge system. This ridge has a 10,000-mile crack on the ocean floor which was caused by the separation of North American and Eurasian tectonic plates (Iceland.IS). When plates meet, they rub against each other while they slide to opposite sides. Sometimes, they move away from each other causing the release of pressure which exposes the lava sea between the two. The exposing of the lava allows the lava to stream to the surface where it cools down and forms new lands. This is called constructive junction. Twenty-million years-ago the island did not even exist (para 2.).
Iceland is one of the frequent islands shaken by earth tremors. Since the settlement of Iceland in AD 874, thirteen volcanoes have erupted out of the 30 active volcanic systems. Every 5 years, Iceland experiences major volcanic events. In 1784 and 1896, large areas of southern Iceland had been devastated by the worst earthquakes (Iceland.Is). A third of the lava that has canvased over the earth’s surface has erupted in Iceland since the middle ages. Fortunately, because of the massive volcanic activities that occur, the geological activity that creates the volcanoes gives an endless supply of geothermal energy. Iceland has one of the cheapest and cleanest forms of energy in existence; over 90% of housing in Iceland is heated by the natural geothermal heat. The melt water created by the sub-glacial volcanoes provides Iceland with a great potential source of hydroelectric power. Also, hot springs can be found almost everywhere. Therefore, Iceland is the least polluted country due to all the clean energy.
Iceland may have been created by the landing of the volcanoes, but the ice is what shapes them today. Glaciers cover approximately 10 % of Iceland. Geologists believe that the entire island was buried beneath miles of ice just less than 8,000-years ago. As the glaciers melted away, they have carved Iceland’s miraculous steep-sided valleys, fjords, and long narrow glacial valley’s that have been flooded by the sea. Today, the ice continues to smooth and carve the land of Iceland. One day, Iceland’s newest volcanoes blew through the ice delivering smoke and ash into the arctic air thousands of feet high, while millions of gallons of water from melted ice made its way down the hill giving the grand production of nature. This was the ultimate combination of fire and ice (InterKnowledge Corporation, 2005).
Today, the Island has places that look like they belong to another world. The active volcanoes regularly erupt adding more lava and ash to the landscape; while these eruptions occur, sometimes the spit of lava and ash turn into spectacular and dangerous geologic fireworks. The ashes from the volcanoes are