One notable feature of the lava cooling operation was the deposit of large amounts of salt where seawater was sprayed onto the lava. Nearly all of the island’s 5,300 residents were evacuated by fishing boats to the mainland, and they temporarily could not return. It is estimated that a third of all the basaltic lava erupted in the world in recorded history has been produced by Icelandic eruptions. When the Eldfell volcano exploded on Heimaey in 1973, people had to flee in an instant. We did the hike before we visited the museum and it might've been helpful to do it the other way around. The 221m-high volcanic cone Eldfell appeared from nowhere in the early hours of 23 January 1973. At about 20:00 on 21 January 1973, a series of small tremors began to occur around Heimaey. Its name means Fire Mountain, and it formed in a volcanic eruption which began without warning just outside the town of Heimaey on 23 January 1973. There was some underwater volcanic activity during the ongoing eruptions, which caused the water pipeline to Heimaey to break. The Vestmannaeyjar archipelago was settled in about 874 AD, originally by escaped Irish slaves belonging to Norse settlers on the mainland. The pipelayers used bulldozers and walkie-talkies to advance through the steam to lay more pipes. By the end of January, tephra covered most of the island, reaching 5 metres (16 ft) deep in places. Because of severe storms in the days before the eruption, almost the entire fishing fleet was in the harbour, a stroke of luck which greatly assisted the organisation of the rapid evacuation. Lava sprayed into the air from the fissures. It is a stratovolcano. Professor Sigurgeirsson provided advice to the pumping crews on where to direct their efforts to most efficiently slow the flows. Once the viability of lava cooling had been proven, efforts to halt the flows were increased. Lava flows had been sprayed with water in attempts to slow them in Hawaii and on Mount Etna, but these had been rather small-scale operations with limited success. In the end, the harbour entrance was narrowed considerably but not closed off, and the new lava flow acted as a breakwater, actually improving the shelter afforded by the harbour. The attention focussed on the island as a result of the eruption led to a later upsurge in tourism once the eruption was over [1] ( The most prominent feature on Heimaey before 1973 was Helgafell, a 200 m (650 ft) high volcanic cone formed in an eruption about 5,000 years ago. Consider things such as access and accommodation at the base of Eldfell, as well as the logistics of climbing to the summit. Be the first to submit your climbing note! Yet, while eruptions are spectacular to watch, they can cause disastrous loss of life and property, especially in densely populated regions of the world. It is sobering to think this volcano erupted during my lifetime! The Heimaey Eruption: Iceland 1973 documented the battle to save the town from the volcano, Eldfell. 32 pumps were brought in from the USA, which had a capacity of up to 1000 l/s. Within six hours of the onset of the eruption, almost all of the 5,300 people of the island were safely on the mainland. The eruption caused a major crisis for the island and led to its immediate evacuation. The ensuing lava-cooling operations were the most ambitious that had ever been undertaken. Many houses were destroyed by the weight of the ash fall, but crews of volunteers working to clear the ash from roofs and board up windows saved many more. Although you probably want to do this hike earlier in the day. One that erupted around 6000 years ago and then we have Eldfell that erupted in 1973 and all of our inhabitants needed to leave the islands from the mainland. View of Heimaey before the eruption: Town of Vestmannaeyjar with Helgafell in the right back-ground (photo courtesy of Sólarfilma). Small tremors are very common at plate boundaries, and nothing here indicated that they heralded a major eruption. Efforts to prevent the loss of the harbour are described further below. The name initially given to the new volcano was Kirkjufell (Church Mountain), perhaps to echo the nearby Helgafell (Holy Mountain), but the cone was eventually named Eldfell (Fire Mountain) by the official Icelandic place naming committee. Its name means Fire Mountain, and it formed in a volcanic eruption which began without warning just outside the town of Heimaey on 23 January 1973. Failure of pump shafts became a problem after a few weeks, probably because they were designed for pumping oil rather than water, and new and improved shafts had to be manufactured in Reykjavík and brought in. Submarine activity also occurred just offshore at the northern and southern ends of the fissure. Volcanic ash fell over most of the island, destroying many houses, and a lava flow threatened to close off the harbour, the island's main income source via its fishing fleet. Submarine activity just north of the fissure severed an electric power cable and a water pipeline which supplied electrical power and water from the Icelandic mainland, and lava began to flow into the harbour, as situation which caused serious concerns - if the harbour was destroyed, the island's fishing industry would be devastated. Eldfell: Eldfell is a very small volcano, only around 650 feet high, on the Icelandic island of Heimaey. In January of 1973, an eruption began along a 1.5 mile (2 km) long fissure not far from the center of the town of Vestmannaeyjar. Since the settlement, no eruptions had been known to occur on the islands until 1963, when a new member of the archipelago, Surtsey, was formed by a four year eruption which began offshore about 20 km (12.5 miles) south-west of Heimaey. The fissure rapidly extended to a length of 2 km (1.25 miles), crossing the island from one shore to the other. Later on in the eruption, a surge of lava destroyed one fish processing plant and damaged two others, and also demolished the town's power generating plant. By the end of March, a fifth of the town had been covered by lava flows, and increased pumping capacity was required. However, Professor Þorbjörn Sigurgeirsson of the University of Iceland calculated that it should easily be possible to cool the lava flows to the point of solidification by spraying them with sufficient sea water. By the end of January, tephra covered most of the island, reaching 5 m (16 ft) deep in places. Rough tracks were made onto the flow by bulldozing tephra, but these tracks quickly became very uneven and moved several metres a day. Scientists have speculated that volcanic activity in the archipelago may be increasing due to the southward propagation of the rift zone which crosses Iceland. Visit the Westman Islands … Wooden supports for the pipes caught fire where the lava was hottest, and even aluminium supports melted, but the pipes themselves were prevented from melting by the cold seawater flowing through them. From 23:00 until 01:34 on 23 January, seven tremors were detected, the largest of which measured 2.7 on the Richter scale. In the early hours of the eruption, the Icelandic State Civil Defence Organisation evacuated the entire population of Heimaey, having previously developed evacuation plans for an emergency such as this. A few days after the eruption began, the prevailing wind direction moved to the west, resulting in extensive tephra falls over the rest of the island, causing extensive property damage. Houses close to the rift were soon destroyed by lava flows and tephra fall. Kristjansson L., Simon I., Cohen M.L., Björnsson S. (1975). In July 1998 I returned to Heimaey to see the changes on the island over the 25 years and to document the changes with video. The first boats left for Þorlákshöfn at about 02:30, just half an hour after the start of the eruption. The fissure extended across the entire island, producing a spectacular curtain of fire. Eldfell is a cinder cone 200m high on the island of Heimay in the Vestmann islands off the south west cost of Iceland. Volcano, vent in the crust of Earth or another planet or satellite, from which issue eruptions of molten rock, hot rock fragments, and hot gases.A volcanic eruption is an awesome display of Earth’s power. Poisonous gases, mostly carbon dioxide, became concentrated in many buildings partially buried by tephra, and several other people were affected when entering these buildings. The tremors continued at a reduced rate until 11:00 on 22 January, after which they stopped until 23:00 that evening. By the end of the eruption, Eldfell stood about 220 m (720 ft) above sea level. Nonetheless, be prepared with hiking shoes, right clothing in function of the weather (and even in summer I'd suggest to have a cap, windbreaker clothes, gloves) and water. Explore {{searchView.params.phrase}} by color family {{familyColorButtonText(}} Volcano eruption on Heimaey Island in Iceland on 23 January 1973. The first attempt to slow the lava flow by spraying the leading edge with sea water began on 7 February, and although the volume of water being pumped on was rather small at 100 litres/s, the flow was noticeably affected. A curtain of fire and lava shot into the air 200m only 1km from the only town of Vestmannaeyjir. The recovery and reconstruction of Heimaey was paid for by all Icelanders via a hypothecated sales tax, as well as through international aid totalling USD2.1 million, primarily from Denmark but with substantial contributions from the USA and several international organisations. This would mean a significant decrease in Iceland’s importing income. As Heimaey was responsible for some 25% of Iceland's total annual catch, the effect on the whole country's economy would be significant. After three months of continuous activity, S. Thorarinsson reported on 21 April that the Heimaey eruption is slowly abating. The ash and lava left homes and other buildings frozen in time just as people left them. The country lies on two tectonic plates along which the volcanoes are located: the Eurasian and North American plates. With the harbour improved by the new lava breakwater, the fishing industry regained its former vigour and the island today remains the most important fishing centre in the nation. See nearby properties Eldfell & Helgafell If seeing the sights is on your list of things to do, head to Eldfell & Helgafell— just one of the landmarks located 1.2 mi (1.9 km) from central Ofanleiti. Random Facts About Natural Elephant Rock Heimaey Iceland Includes: 1. Head to Eldfell Volcano, located nearby. Lava flows also moved into the sea east of the island, creating new land that would eventually add over 2 km² (0.8 square miles) to the island, and into the eastern parts of town, destroying several hundred houses. Although plagued by poor water supplies and piracy during much of its history, Heimaey became the most important centre of the Icelandic fishing industry, having one of the few good harbours on the southern side of the country, and being situated in very rich fishing grounds. In 1973, the Eldfell volcano erupted. Following the end of the eruption, the islanders used the heat from the slowly cooling lava flows to provide hot water and generate electricity. The eruption finally came to an end in early July, when flowing lava was no longer visible, although subsurface flows may have continued for a few days longer. Eldfell ("fire mountain" in Icelandic) is a volcano on the island of Heimaey in the Vestmannaeyjar archipelago 15 miles (25 km) south of Iceland. The pumping capacity was increased in early March, when a large chunk of the crater wall broke away from the summit of Eldfell and began to be carried along the top of the lava flow towards the harbour. The population was alerted to the situation by fire engines sounding their sirens, and gathered by the harbour with just the small amount of possessions they were able to carry. Later the new mountain was named Eldfell, which means “Fire Mountain” in English. Sixteen years after it roared to life, the 725-foot Eldfell volcano looks down almost benignly these days on the town it came close to destroying. The eruption had made headlines around the world when it began, and was covered constantly by Icelandic news crews throughout. Volcano overwhelms an Icelandic village, 1973). The water cooling of the lava was slow, but achieved a maximum efficiency, with almost all the water being converted to steam. After these pumps began to cool the flow advancing towards the town, its movement slowed dramatically and soon stopped. Although several men sustained minor burns, no serious injuries were received. Shortly before the end of the eruption, a tiltmeter 1.15 km from the crater which had been measuring ground deformation throughout the eruption detected subsidence towards the crater, implying that the shallow magma chamber which had fed the eruption was emptying out. Iceland is a region of frequent volcanic activity, due to its location astride the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, where the North American and Eurasian Plates are moving apart, and also over the Iceland hotspot, which greatly enhances the volcanic activity. We walked to the trailhead from the harbor without much difficulty. Eldfell Climbing Notes. This page was last modified 00:27, 6 May 2005. Eldfell is a cinder cone volcano just over 200 m high on the Icelandic island of Heimaey. The eruption caused a major crisis for the island and nearly led to its permanent evacuation. The Hotel Vestmannaeyjar and Aska Hostel are located within 2 miles (3 kilometers) of Eldfell Volcano. Large expanses of flow became encrusted with extensive white deposits, and it was estimated that up to 220,000 tonnes of salt was deposited in total. The Vestmannaeyjar (Icelandic for Westman islands) archipelago lies off the south coast of Iceland, and consists of several small islands, all formed by eruptions in the Holocene epoch. The resourceful local people pumped seawater onto the lava which diverted the … It is believed that as least some of the CO2 originated deep within the volcanic conduit and percolated through older volcanic rocks, rising directly into the town. The scheme was extended to several more houses and the hospital, and in 1979 construction began of four larger plants to extract heat from the flows. The insides of lava flows can remain at temperatures of several hundred °C for many years due to the very low thermal conductivity of rock. The evacuation was necessary because lava flows were already moving slowly into the eastern side of town, and the whole of the small island was threatened by the likelihood of heavy ash fall. Eldfell Volcano Loop is a 3.3 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Vestmannaeyjar, Southern, Iceland that offers scenic views and is rated as moderate. Each plant extracted energy from a square 100 m on each side, by percolating water down into the hot parts and collecting the resulting steam. In total, the volume of lava and tephra emitted during the five-month eruption was estimated to be about 0.25 km³ (0.06 cubic miles). The threat of lava flows cutting off the harbour was the most significant facing the town. Eldfell Volcano, Heimaey, Westmann Isles, Iceland, 1973 Bárðarbunga was one of the most recent eruptions to occur in the country - it erupted over a … Houses close to the rift were soon destroyed by lava flows and tephra fall. First an eruption fissure, about 1,500 m long, opened seawards only about 200 – 300 meters from the easternmost part of the town. The eruption started next to Vestmannaeyjabær town, on Heimaey island, and all the inhabitants of the island had to flee to the mainland of Iceland. They were too weak to be felt by the residents of the island, but a seismic station 60 km away recorded over 100 small tremors between 01:00 and 03:00 on 22 January. Many houses were destroyed by the weight of the ash fall, but crews of volunteers working to clear the ash from roofs and board up windows saved many more. At 01:00 on 23 January 1973, a volcanic eruption of the mountain Eldfell began on Heimaey. Other Things to Do Near Eldfell Volcano After finishing up with Eldfell Volcano, visitors often check out some of the area's other interesting attractions: Start your day with a walk up Eldfell & Helgafell. Helgafell, the supposedly dormant volcano, seen from the slopes of Eldfell, the volcano created by Helgafell’s eruption. The trail is … As usual for a fissure eruption the crater row developed into a single active crater in the middle of the rift. The flows were thick and blocky aa flows, and covered the ground to average depths of about 40 m (130 ft), reaching 100 m (330 ft) thick in places. They also used some of the extensive tephra (airborne volcanic material) fall to extend the runway at the island's small airport, and as landfill on which 200 new houses were built. It is a moderately active volcano, but, relatively less active than its neighbors Katla and Eldfell. The volume of lava being emitted during the eruption fell steadily after the first few days. Facts About Eyjafjallajökull Volcano Background Prior to 2010, Eyjafjallajökull had erupted in 920, 1612-1613, and 1821-23. At about 01:55 on 23 January, a fissure opened up on the eastern side of the island, barely a kilometre away from the centre of the town of Heimaey. Spectacular lava fountaining occurred along the whole fissure, which reached a maximum length of about 3 km (2 miles) during the first few hours of the eruption, but activity soon became concentrated on one vent, about 0.8 km (0.5 miles) north of the old volcanic cone of Helgafell and just outside the eastern edge of the town. Apart from falling ash, some houses were also burned down by fires caused by lava bombs, or overridden by advancing lava flows. Not too much, so you don't need to be top fit to get there. There was great concern that the lava flow would impede access to the harbor, which was vital to this fishing community. A few people remained to carry out essential functions and to salvage belongings from threatened houses. by. Fortunately, the lava flows and tephra fall did not at first affect the island's airstrip, and a few people who were unable to travel by boat were evacuated by air. Up to three acres of lava flow could be cooled at one time, with internal barriers then being created within the flow, which thickened and piled up upon itself. The maroon Eldfell volcano - the Fire Mountain - was created in the volcanic eruption of 1973, in the Westman islands. The island of Heimay’s fishing port was at risk of being demolished from the eruption. The efforts of the islanders to halt the lava flows received particular attention, with coverage in publications such as National Geographic (e.g. About 2.5 km² (0.96 square miles) of new land was added to the island, increasing its pre-eruption area by some 20%. Eldfell is a cinder cone volcano just over 200 m high on the Icelandic island of Heimaey. The Sandey was able to spray up to 400 l/s onto the advancing flow, and a network of pipes was laid on top of the lava to distribute the seawater over as wide an area as possible. A few days after the eruption began, the prevailing wind direction moved to the west, resulting in extensive tephra falls over the rest of the island, causing extensive property damage. Vestmannaeyjar: Eldfell volcano (in background) is erupting and fountaining lava. On the night in question, Eldfell, a new volcanic cone, was formed. Create your own unique website with customizable templates. The area of the lava flow is 2.1 km 2, and the average thickness is about 70 m. Once the fireworks finished, heat from the volcano provided Heimaey with geothermal energy from 1976 to 1985. Browse 115 eldfell volcano stock photos and images available, or start a new search to explore more stock photos and images. Volcanic ash fell over most of the island, destroying many houses, and a lava flow threatened to close off the harbour, the island's main income source via its fishing fleet. Eruption of the newly-formed Eldfell Volcano on the island of Heimaey in the Vestmannaeyjar (Westman Islands) south of Iceland, 150 meters from the town of Vestmannaeyjar. Categories: Volcanoes of Iceland | Cinder cones, Lava fountains tower over Heimaey in the early stages of the Eldfell eruption, Thick blocky lava flows advance into town, Steam rises copiously where seawater is being used to cool the flows, Sketch showing the changes to Heimaey caused by the eruption of Eldfell, The street shown above, cleared of lava after the eruption, Helgafell (l) and Eldfell (r) today. The chunk, dubbed Flakkarinn (The Wanderer), would have seriously threatened the viability of the harbour if it had reached it, and the dredging boat Sandey was brought in on 1 March to prevent its advance. The 1973 Icelandic eruption caused a major crisis for the island and nearly led to its permanent evacuation. However, offshore eruptions may have taken place in 1637 and 1896. Eldfell, meanwhile, is a jagged, ash-covered reminder of the 1973 eruption, although in places, bright purple lupins sprout from the blackened slopes where locals … 2. Eldfell is a volcano in the Westman Islands, off the South Coast of Iceland, which famously erupted in the middle of the town of Heimaey in 1973. This pre-planned evacuation route resulted in no lives being lost from the eruption; even though the natural disaster came without warning, the community was still prepared. In Europe, the eruption was one of the biggest news items while it continued, competing for front page space with breakthroughs then being made in the Vietnam War peace talks in Paris. Heimaey, the largest island in the group and the only inhabited one, also contains some material from the Pleistocene era. The explosive activity is now intermittent and the estimated lava production is less than 5 m 3 per second. Apart fr… The workers dubbed themselves 'The Suicide Squad', and managed to lay pipes up to 130 metres (430 ft) inward from the flow front, directly over the advance. These settlers gave the islands their name, Ireland being west of mainland Scandinavia. Despite the eruption's close proximity to the town and the extensive property damage, only one fatality could be attributed to the eruption - a man who had broken into a chemist's store to acquire drugs was suffocated by toxic fumes. These defences were only partially effective, as they relied on the assumption that the gases were produced at the vent, and flowed into the town from there. Causes and Information of the 1973 Eruption: Since then, its height has dropped by 18-20 m (60-65 ft), due to slumping and compacting of the unconsolidated gravelly tephra as well as wind erosion. One contingency plan devised should the harbour be closed off was to cut through a low sand spit on the north side of the island to provide a new channel into the harbour, but it was hoped that if the lava flow could be slowed, this would not be necessary. Mount Eldfell, 200 meters high, formed a volcanic eruption on the 23rd January 1973, just outside the town of Heimaey. The islanders have planted grass around the lower slopes of the otherwise bare hill, to stabilise it against further erosion, and eventually it is expected that most of the volcano will be covered by grass, as neighbouring Helgafell is. The work involved in laying pipes over an active lava was highly dangerous, with low visibility due to the extensive emission of steam. By mid-1974, about half the pre-eruption population had returned to the island, and by March 1975, about 80% had returned. Up to 40 megawatts of power could be generated by the plants, which also then supplied hot water to nearly every house on the island. Efforts to mitigate the hazards presented by the accumulation of poisonous gas included the building of a large tephra wall to divert gases away from the town, and the digging of a trench to channel away the CO2. It is a wonder how the island risked permanent evacuation from the eruption, yet was prevented manually form destroying major ports, which Iceland greatly rely on for their economy. The lava which came from the volcanoes on the plate borders formed the island. The decline was slower after that, but by the middle of April the flow rate had fallen to about 5 m³/s. During the early days of the eruption, the rate of lava and tephra emission from the fissure was estimated to be 100 m³/s, and within two days, the lava fountains had built a cinder cone over 100 m high. While the island had been evacuated up to six hours after the first eruption, there was still no clean drinking water supply for the very few people who chose to stay on the island. I hope to use this to supplement the 1974 film and to produce a teaching CD-ROM illustrating the eruption. At 1.55am on the 23 january a fissure 1800m long opened up from one shore to the other. Today the ground is still hot enough in places to bake bread or char wood. Eldfell Volcano - Westmann Islands is a 0.8 mile loop trail located near Vestmannaeyjar, Southern, Iceland that offers scenic views and is good for all skill levels. Flakkarinn rafted several hundred metres towards the harbour along the top of the lava flow, but came to a halt well away from the water's edge. The abundant tephra produced by the eruption was used to extend the runways at the island's small airport, and also as landfill on which 200 new homes were built. This type of volcano is generally a steep sided, symmetrical cone of large dimensions.