Tuesday

Exploring Iceland

To really understand Iceland, you have to go WAAAAY back in history. To PRE-history, in fact. So let's [REWIND] about one hundred thousand years, to what geologists might call "yesterday." The Late Quaternary Period. (You know the one; it comes after the Pliocene Epoch in the geological timescale. The Quaternary Period started 1.8 million years ago, and we're still living in it today.)

One hundred thousand and ONE year ago, it seems, Iceland wasn't even here. It was just a burp on the ocean floor - deeeeep down beneath the waves. Hot magma spilled from the mid-Atlantic ocean rift and cooled into the land mass which is now the island of Iceland. (Ta da!)

And it's still happening! Iceland is getting larger - about 2 centimetres each year - because Iceland is straddling two geological plates.

Beep! Beep! Beep! (That's me, backing up a bit, to fill you in on some GEOLOGY!)

THE THEORY OF PLATE TECTONICS
"Plate Tectonics" is an idea that once upon a time (and we're talking once upon A LONG LONG LONG time ago) the continents of the world were joined up, as a single, large landmass. There were (and ARE) different geological plates and their movement made the large landmass break apart. Over time, the continents separated from each other, into the world as we know it today.

At the edges, where two or more plates touch each other, there's A LOT of activity. Iceland sits on top of the American AND Asian plates. So there you have it, Iceland's as geologically active as can be! There are about 30 earthquakes EVERY DAY. (Of course, MOST of the earthquakes are only tiny, so you wouldn't even notice them.)

The Reykanes Peninsula looks like the surface of the moon: No trees, no shrubbery, just jaggedy rocks as far as you can see. Of course, those rocks are the leftovers of volcanic lava. Steam - smelling of rotten eggs - billows out of holes in the rocky earth, so you have to watch where you're walking because you could break through the crust and... well, who knows what might happen. Seriously, you might burn your leg off.

Want to learn more? Check out my next Iceland blog! But that's all for now.