Between Glaciers and Volcanoes
By Wolf Leichsenring – Travel Journalist – August 1, 2019 – The Healing Mind Exclusive
Iceland’s most famous and Europe’s largest glacier, the Vatnajökull (8.100km², which is equivalent to 8% of the total size of Iceland) reaches with its glacier tongues to the south coast of the island. From the easternmost to the westernmost, at least 12 such natural spectacles can be considered and can be hiked.
So I start on Schuster’s rappen to one of these glacier tongues named Hoffellsjökull. About rough, sometimes sharp-edged lava soil leads the way without losing sight of my goal. After about 2 hours, the glacier tongue is reached. From a rock, I look at the black-gray ice field with the glacier lake in front of it. Somewhere in the distance this constantly flowing ice mass disappears behind a hilltop. Next I climb along the rugged eastern ice edge, as far as it goes or as far as you can trust without proper equipment for glacier hiking, up to the waterfall Hoffelsfjall. On the way back to the motorhome, I think for a long time about this fascinating, direct glacier experience, about the primeval forces of nature but also about the increasingly rapid melting processes of the ice masses.
In the immediate vicinity, strung like the pearls of a chain, shine the smaller siblings of the glacier giant Vatnajökullim daylight, theMyrdalsjökullund theEyjyfjallajökull. So peaceful as the sight may appear, under the icy glory often Vulkanische threat such as the volcano Katla. In addition, the Katla, which hides under the 200m to 700m thick ice sheet of the Myrdalsjökull, is a permanent danger dar. Nach as before, the volcano is very active. In the last 1,000 years there have been 20 volcanic eruptions, statistically 2 per century. The last major eruption is scientifically proven for 1918, minor outbreaks in 1955 and 1999.
However, they are not single volcanoes, but form virtually the central point of a 100km long volcanic chain from the rock canyon Eidgjá in the northeast to the Westman Islands in the south.
Recent effects of Iceland as a volcanic hot spot exist in nature on the Westman Islands. By ferry I let me translate in around 40 minutes to Heimaey. Well 4,000 residents live in the island and the same place. In total, 18 islands belong to the archipelago, including the world’s newest Eilands Surtsey.
Immediately at the harbor I dive into the volcanic history of the island, because directly behind the first houses pile up the lava of the recent eruption. In 1963, the volcano Eidfell spilled half of the city. Above the northern edge of the village, its glowing lava flows flowed into the center. Thanks to the rapid evacuation, there were no human casualties. Today, locals and visitors alike swim along these lava streams.
On paths in the cold lava fields I wander to the Eldheimar Museum, built opposite the volcano mountain memorial. As Pompei of the North, it impressively reminds of the eruption and its effects. The building was built around spilled and dug out of the lava ash houses around. In the outdoor area, other half-exposed buildings can be visited. Together with the documentary parts, the institution provides a vivid picture of the situation at the time.
Only 10 years before the outbreak of the Haidian Eidfell, the island of Surtsey was born by another underwater volcano. We certainly remember the reports and TV programs that went around the world at the time. It did not stop at a single eruption, but the explosive eruptions continued in June 1967. It is said to have been the longest volcanic eruption in Iceland’s history. About the Surtsey Research Society remains an island visit, however, scientists reserved.
Fire and ice, peaceful nature against a volcanic permanent threat scenario – Iceland abounds in both.
Wolf Leichsenring – Travel Journalist