1973 Heymaey Eruption
Wednesday, August 10, 2011 7:45:00 AM
The most recent extension of Iceland is the Eldfell scoria cone and lava flow formed in an eruption in 1973. The eruption began on Tuesday 23 January from a 1.6 km long fissure. A day later the eruption became concentrated at one spot, which was to become the new volcano Eldfell (Fire Mountain
). The eruption lasted just over five months to 3 July 1973. The size of Heimaey was increased by 2.2 km2
in the eruption and the lava flow field covers an area of about 3.3 km2
. The total amount of magma erupted was 0.5 km3
. The encroaching lava flow threatened to destroy the harbour, the main source of livelihood for most of the town. By constantly spraying the lava with cold seawater, some of it solidified and some of it diverted, thus saving the harbour from destruction.
The eruption came as a total surprise as the Helgafell (Holy Mountain had not been active for about 5000 years.
Dark Eldfell lavafields to the right. Helgafell and surroundings are covered by green vegetation after 5000 years of inactivity.