Is that a volcano?

Someone once said that Iceland is one big volcano. Obviously, this is not true. In fact, it is not even one big volcanic system. Parts of Iceland are mainly powered by the Icelandic mantleplume, with just a bit of power coming from the spreading of the Mid Atlantic Ridge (MAR). Then there is a group…

The Bristol tsunami of 1607

I have seen fish and men hanging from trees, while the cow, sheep, and horse swam in the sea. Where wagons used to roll, there the skiff flies along with sails unfurled, and goes and returns by unaccustomed routes. (John Stradling. Source http://website.lineone.net/~mike.kohnstamm/flood/stradling.html) It was one of those days. Living on the coastal flood plain…

Theistareykjarbunga – Iceland’s Slumbering Giant

Carl / Originally published December 2011 This is a re-post of an article by Carl, written long before (in impatient volcaholic time-scales) fellow giant Bárðarbunga’s eruption. The Five Large Volcanoes of Iceland Iceland holds five volcanoes that in historical time have had eruptions transcending the 10 cubic kilometer mark during post-glacial times. The most obvious are of…

Super interested in supervolcanoes?

A few days ago, I wrote that we are currently living in a volcanic low period. The last significant eruption happened on the 8th of August in 1991 and the culprit was Cerro Hudson. It was a medium sized VEI-5 eruption expelling roughly 4.5 cubic kilometres of ejecta. After that there has been a 26-year…

Rockall: The lost continent of Middle Earth

Mid-oceanic rifts should be in the middle of the ocean they formed. And often they are, but there are exceptions. The Reykjanes Rift, south of Iceland, is one of these. It is well known for its connection to Iceland, and events there are often discussed in this blog. Reykjanes has separated Greenland from Scotland, and…

Beneath a Boiling Sun: Mercury Rising

All volcanoes are the same. You start with liquid rock some distance below the surface. It tries to rise because molten rock is less dense than the solid rock that surrounds it. Once it reaches the surface it is called a volcano. There are many variations, of course. The liquid may pour out and form…

The young volcanologist guide to Lanzarote

Through channels most convolute and mysterious a request came into my hands for a guide to the volcanism of Lanzarote for a young man called Luke. Feel the volcanic force, young Luke! The Canary Islands As Africa and South America broke apart and the South Atlantic started to form 106 million years ago there was…

The 1342 St Mary Magdalene flood

Living near a river had its advantages. Transport was easy: you were well connected to other cities on (navigable) water ways, and trade was a reliable way to wealth. In the Middle Ages, the Hanze cities formed a powerful trading alliance, linked by water transport. If you also were on a land trading route and…

his wonderful image of a thermal field in Reykjanes was honestly stolen from Snorri Gunnarssons page www.iceland-phototours.com

Reykjanes Volcanic Field

A re-post of a Carl-special. With current reports of increasing activity on the Reykjanes peninsula, after 800 years of quiet, this is a post well worth recalling. And remember that in the few hundred years before the current calm, roughly 900-1300, every major volcano on the peninsula erupted. These were amazing years which also included…

Failure

The signs were unequivocal. It started with earthquake swarms. A phreatic eruption followed, and than the ground began to swell. Magma was approaching the surface. An eruption was on the cards and evacuation plans were put in place. An exclusion zone kept people safe but not their possessions – and as always some people could…