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Eldfell, Heimaey Island

(5/5 based on 25+ reviews on the web)
Eldfell is a composite volcanic cone just over 200m high on the Icelandic island of Heimaey. It formed in a volcanic eruption which began on the eastern side of Heimaey in the Westman Islands on 23 January 1973. This came without any sign of warning. The name of Eldfell means Mountain of Fire in Icelandic.The eruption caused a major crisis for the island and nearly led to its permanent evacuation. Volcanic ash fell over most of the island, destroying around 400 homes, and a lava flow threatened to close off the harbour, the island's main income source via its fishing fleet. An operation was mounted to cool the advancing lava flow by pumping sea water onto it, which was successful in preventing the loss of the harbour.After the eruption, the islanders used heat from the cooling lava flows to provide hot water and to generate electricity. They also used some of the extensive tephra, fall-out of airborne volcanic material, to extend the runway at the island's small airport, and as landfill, on which 200 new houses were built.BackgroundIceland 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. It is estimated that a third of all the basaltic lava erupted in the world in recorded history has been produced by Icelandic eruptions.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • Amazing how eruptions happen in Iceland vs our idea of explosive mountains. The other amazing thing is how locals seem to just accept the danger matter of factory! Very cool  more »
  • If you do stop to Vestmannaeyjar the hike on the Vulkan of Eldfell is a must. This Outlook, this atmosphere is a dream. Clear recommendation
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  • It doesn't take too long to do the hike up this volcano, but it is rather strenuous walking up to the very top. Just the same, if you are on the island, it's absolutely worth it. The views are spectac...  more »