Published September 8, 2016
With the recent news that seismic activity was recorded around the volcano Katla, international media sources were quick to declare that a massive eruption was set to go off in Iceland any day now. While the truth is more complicated than that (short version: there aren’t any signs yet that Katla is ready to pop, but it is long overdue for a major eruption), we thought it might be a good idea to re-acquaint our readers with our major volcanoes, and rate them by various criteria. So without further ado, here are Iceland’s better known volcanoes.
Location: Snæfellsnes, West Iceland.
Last erupted: Around 200 CE, give or take
Pros: Reportedly the gateway to The Centre of the Earth; looks pretty cool even close up; is said to be a major “power centre” of ley-line energy, if you believe that sort of thing.
Cons: Hasn’t erupted since way before the Settlement; makes the area all around it a lot colder on account of the glacier; does not actually lead to the centre of the earth.
HOT OR NOT: No eruption in over a millennium = ice cold.
Location: Central Highlands
Last erupted: 1961
Pros: Continues to quake and tremble in a threatening manner; the last eruption made some beautiful explosion craters, including a geothermal lake that is literally called Hell (“Víti”).
Cons: Doesn’t look like a volcano so much as a meteorite impact site; entirely too inaccessible to curious human explorers; geothermal lake does not actually lead to Hell.
HOT OR NOT: Gets points for style, but there’s not much backing it up.
Location: South Iceland
Last erupted: 2000
Pros: Erupts about as often as you change socks; easily accessible to curious human explorers; actually resembles a volcano in appearance.
Cons: Bit sexist giving a volcano a woman’s name, isn’t it?; keeps taunting us with the possibility of a new eruption; destroyed the forest that was once around the area.
HOT OR NOT: With eruptions this frequent, it’s decidedly more than a little bit hot.
Location: Southeast Iceland
Last erupted: 2010
Pros: Caused an international media shitstorm when it erupted last; inspired an Icelandic Eurovision contender that should have made the cut; nearly impossible for foreigners to pronounce.
Cons: Gave former president Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson a reason to talk to the press; caused numerous hotel reservation and flight cancellations; inspired the “I Hate Iceland Guy” meme.
HOT OR NOT: Flash-in-the-pan flavour of the week but still commands star power. Very hot.
Location: South Iceland
Last erupted: 1918, although it may have contributed to glacial flooding in 2011.
Pros: One of the most spectacularly powerful volcanoes in the country; has sent ash to Europe on many occasions; has gained mythic proportions as a symbol of complete destruction.
Cons: Again, what’s with volcanoes being given women’s names?; could actually be very destructive when it erupts; continues to be guaranteed clickbait for alarmist reporting.
HOT OR NOT: You just can’t compete with a legend. Hottest of them all.
Additional photo credits (in descending order): Art Bicnick, Matthew Eisman, Oxonhutch/Wikimedia Commons, NASA Goddard Space Center, RicHard-59/Wikimedia Commons.