Icelandic nature

island_platesIceland is an island in the North-Atlantic with the latitude 64 and longitude of -19. Iceland is located on two separate plates, the North-American plate and the Eurasian plate. To be located on two separate plates can mean that the country is really active regarding earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Those plates are moving to separate directions which causes Iceland to have a large crack throughout the country, which keeps getting bigger and bigger (they move an average 2 cm from each other every year). Iceland has a lot of earthquakes every day but most of them are so lenient that they can rarely be felt.

Most of Iceland‘s bedrock is made up by basalt lava, tuff and some sedimentary rocks. Also Iceland is one of few countries where you can find basalt columns.

The foundation of Iceland was created by a volcanic eruption 15-20 million years ago which makes Iceland one of the youngest countries geographically. Iceland is located under a huge mantle plume (hot spot). A mantle plume is an upwelling of abnormally hot rock within the Earth’s mantle. As the heads of mantle plumes can partly melt when they reach shallow depths, they are thought to be the cause of volcanic centre  known as hotspots.

eyjafjallajokullIceland has had countless volcanic eruptions since that happened, reason being that Iceland is under a hot spot and that we’re located on two plates. Iceland has about 30 active volcanos today, most of them are located on glaciers but some are just regular mountains.  Most famous volcanic eruption that happened recently must have been the eruption of the glacier Eyjafjallajökull in 2010, but the ash from that eruption stopped air traffic in most of Europe. Last eruption we had started in September 2014 in Holuhraun north of the glacier Vatnajökull and just ended in February 2015. A volcano eruption can be expected every five years in Iceland.

Since the settlement some eruptions have marked a big mark on Iceland’s history, e.g. the eruption in Lakagígar 1783, but if it hadn’t been for that eruption, statistically Iceland‘s population could be about one million instead of 350 thousand.  That‘s because the ash from the volcano was of course deadly and many people got lung decease , those who did not get sick, died from starvation because the ash killed so many sheep and other domestic animals. Also ¼ (one fourth) of Iceland’s population moved to Canada because last few years had been very hard on Iceland and people thought life would be better somewhere else.

Iceland‘s weather is pretty cold, being close to the Artic. The thing that keeps Iceland from being even colder is the Gulf Stream that comes all the way from the Caribbean Sea and Mexico.  During winter the temperature is an average -1° and during summer it is an average 13°. Coldest temperature ever measured in Iceland is -38°and the hottest temperature ever measured is 31°. Iceland’s weather can be very changeable. In the morning we might have the sun shining but 4 hours later it might be snowing. 21st of December is Iceland shortest day of the year. That day the sun only shines for about 4 hours. The opposite happens during our summers, but then even the nights are bright.
Iceland’s nature is known to be very beautiful. Our country is filled with waterfalls, geysers, majestic mountains and don’t forget the Northern Lights.

blue-lagoonIceland is much known for having loads of hot water because being under a hot spot and again because of our two separate plates. The Blue Lagoon is one of Iceland’s biggest tourist attractions. It was formed in 1976 during operation at the nearby geothermal power plant. It is known for its mystic, blue colour. There you can bathe in the hot water and even go to a spa.

The hot springs Geysir and Strokkur are also a very big tourist attraction. Geysir is one of the most famous geysers in the world and the word geyser actually comes from our Geysir. Strokkur is really active but Geysir has stopped erupting. When you come to Iceland you might notice that we don’t have a lot of trees but still, the colours of our mountains can take your breath away.

Then of course by far what every tourist want to see when they come to Icelandic are the beautiful and mysterious northern lights. They are the strongest and brightest December-February.

Written by Anna Birna

Presentation about Icelandic nature


Ómar Bjarki Smárason. 2002. „Berggrunnur Íslands“. Námur.
Retrieved from: on 21.09.15.

Páll Einarsson. „Hver er stærsti jarðskjálfti sem mælst hefur á Íslandi og hversu stór var hann?“. Vísindavefurinn 2012. Retrieved from: on 20.09.15.

ÞV. „Á hvaða breiddargráðu er Ísland? “. Vísindavefurinn , 2000. Retrieved from: on 21.09.2015.