Front row to an ice and fire phenomenon

By | Travel
Bardarbunga ash cloud. Credit@blog.ingleinternational.com

Located in the North Atlantic Ocean, distantly neighboured by Greenland and Norway, lies a land sculpted by the whims of nature. Iceland is a place of natural beauty. Due to its volcanic origin, Iceland hosts; geysers, hot springs, lava fields and glaciers that have always attracted those drawn to witness nature’s phenomenons. Inhabited by a proudly independent race, Iceland is a land of hard-workers with a legendary Norse heritage.

Although largely unpopulated, located just under the Arctic Circle, Iceland is considered one of the healthiest and cleanest countries to visit. Strong in both culture and climate, Iceland’s black sand beaches, gorgeous hydroelectric waterfalls and snow capped mountains are all back dropped by the foundation of Iceland’s character; volcanoes.

There are around 30 volcanic systems, each encompassing craters and fissures, outlining Iceland’s landscape. One of the biggest volcanoes to view, is Bardarbunga. A sub glacial volcano which is set under several hundred metres of ice, by the most extensive glacier in the world, the Vatnajökull. The Bardarbunga has a long standing history, when nearly 8,000 years ago it created the biggest lava emission of the past 10 millennia.

Bardabunga volcano. Credit@Flickr.com

Bardabunga volcano. Credit@Flickr.com

Throughout the month of August, Iceland’s volcanic region saw over 1,000 earthquakes in a matter of days. The USGS Aviation colour code changed from orange to red, meaning that volcanic activity was in progress; Bardarbunga was showing signs of life. After many suggestions that the readings were incorrect, on August 29th lava began oozing from several fissures made at Holruhaun, a clear indication of life. It looks like Bardarbunga however, has just begun.

Volcanoes are created by the separation of two continental plates, allowing magma flows to fill fissures created in the Earth’s crust. A famous example of volcanic activity, the breathtaking sights and complications they can create, was back in 2010. The Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull, spewed 250 million cubic metres of fine ash almost 9km into the atmosphere and into European airspace, grounding nearly 100,000 flights. This large scale volcanic emission allowed scientists to modify the technology to identify effected airspace and aircrafts to develop technology better equipped to handle volcanic ash.

Although Eyjafjallajökull caused challenges to aviation and travel plans, there were those that travelled directly to Iceland to see up close, this rare event happening first hand. Bardarbunga seems to be following in its’ footsteps, Iceland tourism groups have been holding sightseeing tours of the currently active volcano, allowing individuals a first- hand glimpse of the red sky and molten lava.

Bardarbunga volcano Iceland. Credit@infovilag

Bardarbunga volcano Iceland. Credit@infovilag

Reported on Monday, a whirlwind of fire and gas was seen swirling 1km into the air above the Bardarbunga volcano. Considered a ‘dust devil’ this small rotating column of air is thought to form from the combination of hot and cold air. Usually only visible due to the dust and debris is collects on its journey, this ‘dust devil’ was easily spotted as it caught fire from the overflowing lava creating another once in a lifetime spectacle from Iceland’s volcanic belt.

It’s easy to see why one would travel to this breathtaking country to view first hand, this rare natural occurrence. Back in 2010, Discover the World, the UK’s leading Icelandic travel expert, managed to get over 300 people to the volcanic site within 3 days of activity, with some getting a close up glimpse within the first 24 hours.

Iceland’s lava spewing activity is a stark reminder to seize moments while they happen. To make unforgettable memories and be prepared for these experiences happening at any moment. For a country that is moulded by natural occurrences such as these, this Bardarbunga activity will become another piece of history and another phenomenon right on the diverse and breath-taking country’s doorstep.

What other natural occurrences would be a breathtaking sight to witness?

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