Land of Fire. . .
"Of late, watch has been kept on disturbances in Mýrdalsjökull, with scientists saying that there is clearly an increase in the geothermal activity under the glacier. They believe it is certain to erupt in the near future."
News of this kind is almost commonplace in the Icelandic media, as nearly all of the country has been formed by volcanic eruption and, during Iceland's recorded history, eruptions have occurred on an average of once in every five years. Active volcanoes number in the hundreds.
Iceland is amongst the most active volcanic countries of the world. During Iceland's history, volcanoes have often been responsible for great damage to dwellings and farming lands. Extensive destruction was caused by the 1973 eruption on Heimaey Island (in the Vestmannaeyjar), forcing one quarter of the town to be abandoned and business activities to be halted for almost an entire year.
Of all the volcanoes in the country, Hekla in the Rangárvellir district is the most famous. It is believed that Hekla has erupted 16 times since Icelandic settlement, the first in 1104 when it laid waste to Ţjórsárdalur. During the twentieth-century, the volcano erupted five times. Its eruptions consist of both tephra and lava, and they have caused enormous damage to vegetation over the centuries. During the medieval period, Hekla was feared because it was thought to be the entrance to hell. It last erupted in 2000.
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