Feel the Power of the Earth

Volcanoes in Iceland

Active volcanoes, with their enormous power and size, are the only way for us humans to even begin to understand the power lurking below the surface of Planet Earth. Iceland is one of just a few places in the world where visitors can experience this power at first hand. Fearsome but fascinating, the mighty volcanoes of Iceland must be seen to be believed.

Iceland is the largest volcanic island in the world. and is situated in the middle of the North Atlantic between North America and Europe. It is here that the two tectonic plates meet and form some of the most active volcanoes on the planet. All in all there are 130 volcanoes on the island. Experts believe that around 30 of these could be active.

The average interval between eruptions is gradually decreasing from around every ten years to every five years. Many people will remember the eruption of the volcano Eyjafjallajökull in 2010, resulting in a huge cloud of dust which grounded flights across Europe.

Concentration of volcanoes

Many volcanoes on the island

A rental car holiday in Iceland is the perfect way to explore the island's many famous volcanoes such as Katla, Eyjafjallajökull, Hvannadalshnúkur (Iceland's highest volcano), Askja, Hekla, Heimaey and many more. The reason why Iceland is home to such a huge concentration of volcanoes is its location on the mid-Atlantic ridge. This underwater mountain chain creates new crusts which force the tectonic plates together. The distance between Europe and North America grows by about 2cm every year.

The island of Iceland itself was formed by a huge magma bubble known as a "hot spot". This pushes the Earth's crust upwards to form volcanoes. Over the millennia, the many eruptions resulted in the formation of the country we know today as Iceland.

Volcano types in Iceland

Different volcanoes

Iceland is home to a wide variety of volcanoes. Most people think of volcanoes as having a wide base and a sharp peak, but in Iceland visitors will also find a number of table volcanoes with a flat plateau at the summit. Other highlights in Iceland include:

• strato volcanoes
• eruption plates
• cinder cones
• shield volcanoes
• ash craters
• sub-glacial volcanoes

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Volcano eruptions in Iceland

As already mentioned, the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in 2010 was the most recent eruption to have a significant impact on life both in Iceland and beyond. However, the most dramatic eruption since the island was first populated came in 1783, when a 12km chasm opened up in the earth following the eruption of Laki.

The large volume of sulphur dioxide released by the eruption had a devastating effect on the island's vegetation, resulting in the starvation of 10,000 people.

Such was the impact of the eruption that even 1000 kilometres away on the British Isles 25,000 people  died as a result.

Next volcano eruption

On the island of Iceland

Volcano experts and local inhabitants are currently keeping a close eye on Katla, the big sister of Eyjafjallajökull. This volcano traditionally erupts every 80 years. The last eruption was 96 years ago. When it does erupt, people expect the force to be ten times as strong as the eruption of the adjacent Eyjafjallajökull in 2010. Nevertheless, visitors need not be afraid of travelling to Iceland. We will be happy to help you plan an unforgettable stay on the island including visits to a range of volcanoes.