Iceland’s Geography – Iceland: The Volcanic Island
Located in the North Atlantic Ocean, the large island of Iceland was formed by volcanic activity that is still active today. It is located between Greenland and Norway, south of the Artic Circle. As the second largest island in Europe and the 18th largest island in the world, it spans 103,000 square kilometers or 40,000 square miles. It continues to grow 5cm per day due to tectonic plates. Its coastline ranges 4,970 km (3,088 miles).
Its highest point is the mountain called Hvannadalshnúkur, which stands at 2,110 meters (6,920 feet). Its lowest point is called Jökulsárlón Lagoon, which rests 146 meters (0.09 miles) below sea level. The terrain is mostly plateau and is covered in mountains, glaciers, and bays.
Iceland sits upon a large volcanic hot spot on a mid-oceanic ridge. There are a total of 130 volcanic mountains; 18 of which have erupted since it was settled in the 9th century. The highest volcanic mountain, Eldgjá, measures about 800 meters (about 2,625 feet) and its last eruption was shortly prior to the country’s settlement in 934. Bárdarbunga gave Iceland its most recent eruption, lasting from August 2014 to February 2015. This volcanic mountain measures 2,005 meters (6,515 feet) in height. Other recent eruptions were Grímsvötn in 2011 and Eyjafjallajökull in 2010. It has recently been reported that four more volcanoes, Katla, Hekla, Bárdarbunga, and Grímsvötn, are all showing signs of restlessness, causing experts to warn that they may erupt soon.
About 11% of Iceland is covered by the popular tourist attractions, glaciers and icecaps. The largest glacier, Vatnajökull, has a surface of 8,300 square kilometers (3,204 square miles) and is 2,109.6 meters (1.3 miles) high. In total, there are 13 glaciers that measure over 1,446 meters (0.89 miles) high. However, there are a total of 269 named glaciers throughout the country. The types of glaciers vary vastly and include ice caps, mountain glaciers, alpine, and ice streams.
Geysers and Hot Springs
Due to its volcanic base, Iceland’s geysers and hot springs are some of the highest temperature of any others in the world. There are about 250 geothermal areas and 800 hot springs. The average water temperature is 75 degrees C, or 167 degrees F. Iceland’s most famous geyser, The Great Geysir, is currently dormant, but has a long history of violent explosions.
The southern coast of Iceland has a sub-polar oceanic climate, while the rest of the island is tundra. The weather is moderated by the North Atlantic Current, causing it to become unpredictable at times. The winters are mild, but generally cold averaging 0 degrees C (32 degrees F) in the south and -25 to -30 degrees C (-13 to -22 degrees F) in the north. Summers are generally cool, averaging 10 to 13 degrees C (50 to 55 degrees F), but can reach 20 to 25 degrees C (68 to 77 degrees F) on warm days.
Iceland’s winds can reach high speeds of 18 m/s (40 mph) and generate heavy dust storms. While these types of storms are frequent, thunderstorms are extremely rare.
Have you see the Geysers in Iceland? Please share with us in the comments.