Unlocking the Power of Iceland’s Volcanic Activity: A Geologist’s Insights on Eruptions in the Land of Fire and Ice

The Icelandic town of Grindavík have been experiencing a series of earthquakes recently which has led to the town being evacuated amid fears of an impending volcanic eruption. Marine cartographer Marie Tharp first highlighted the connection between the town and the mid-Atlantic ridge between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates, when her work showed the formation of mid-ocean ridges. The geological activity in Iceland comes from the mantle plume which lies beneath the earth’s crust. Another potential eruption of the Fagradalsfjall volcano near Grindavík is not so much cause for concern for locals, but is instead a relatively peaceful source of energy for the area. The hydrothermal plant near Grindavík drives turbines and produces power, using the combination of water, steam, and geothermal heat to create energy. The geothermal water also inspired the creation of the Blue Lagoon, one of the top tourist attractions in Iceland. This kind of volcano typically erupts basalt lava, which can flow easily and relatively peacefully. Fortunately, living in this volcanic area has some economic benefits, like producing nearly a third of the country’s electricity from geothermal sources.


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