If you’re from Europe, chances are you might have heard some news on how Hekla, one of the most infamous Icelandic volcanoes, is expected to erupt any day now; with, according to scientists, disastrous consequences. How do Icelanders feel about all this fuss, concerned, maybe? Scared? Even panicking? Well, frankly, they don’t seem too bothered. Funnily enough, it’s not even being covered in the news here. So how come everyone seems to be panicking about an Icelandic volcano except for the Icelanders? And what else is there to know about volcanoes before going into a panic frenzy? Here are six (more) facts about volcanoes that surprised me and my mainland-Europe brain:
Volcanoes can keep erupting for over a year
Holy macaroni! For some reason, I always thought that an eruption would last several hours, max. Turns out these bad boys can just keep spewing destruction for months on end! And here you go thinking only your mother-in-law brings misery for a hell of a long time. Nope. Turns out so can volcanoes.
It’s almost impossible to predict when a volcano will erupt
There are plenty of active volcanoes in Iceland, but nobody knows when they will go off. It might be tomorrow, might be in 8000 years. Well, let’s just make that in 8000 years then okay? Not tomorrow. Tomorrow I have plans not involving volcano eruptions.
You could literally be walking on lava
Well, perhaps technically is a better word but it turns out that lava isn’t only collected in volcanoes’ magma chambers, it could also be right underneath your feet as well (at least when you’re strolling around in Iceland, not if you’re enjoying iced tea in Germany). Of course, there is a thick crust of earth on top of all that lava, but it’s still pretty cool that only a few kilometres beneath you, there are bubbling pools of liquid rock. I guess this gives the ‘floor is lava’ game an entirely new dimension.
Fun fact: this means it can come out anywhere
Well, not anywhere. You’re still safe drinking your iced tea in Germany. In Iceland however, the lava can be so widely spread underneath you, that the eruption won’t necessarily come out of a cone-shaped mountain like most of us think. The pressure of the lava will seek a weak point in the earth where it can push itself through, making it hard to predict the exact location. That’s exactly what happened in 1973 when an eruption suddenly started up in the middle of the night, right in the middle of an Icelandic fishing town!
Icelanders are pros in using a volcano eruption for sustainable purposes
Go Iceland! Instead of falling apart when faced with destructive natural disasters, they start the clean-up as soon as possible and even think about how to use the eruption to their benefit as well. For example, the Icelanders laid a pipeline, filled with water, through the lava from that 1973 eruption in order to provide households with naturally heated water. Talk about making the most out of nature!
Icelanders actually seem okay with all this
Icelanders just don’t seem too bothered by living with around 130 volcanoes in fairly close proximity to urban areas, and a volcanic eruption every 4-5 years. Maybe it’s because they seem to have the experience and knowledge to deal with them when they erupt. Icelanders have been living under these circumstances for years on end and have therefore grown extremely rich in information over time. Don’t feel unsafe coming here, you’ll be in the best of hands, even in the event of an eruption! If anything does happen, you’ll not only be completely fine, but also have a great story to tell.