Iceland is Constantly Rebuilt by Nature
by Sienna Murray, age 12
Because of Iceland's unique position atop the mid-Atlantic ridge, the island nation is continuously being re-built by nature.
The Atlantic Ocean opened 180 million years ago, setting the stage for the creation of several island nations that exist today. Then, 60 million years ago, Greenland and Scotland started to separate. This movement in the Atlantic, known as the mid-Atlantic ridge, gave rise to many islands (including Iceland) and still happens today!
Because Iceland is on top of the mid-Atlantic ridge, the stretching of Scotland away from Greenland causes eruptions in Iceland. The nation’s oldest rocks are about 60 million years old and the island has been growing ever since. Sheets upon sheets of cooled lava from active volcanoes pile high to create the island.
A sheet of ice covered the island in the last ice age. Remnants of the sheet make up the icecaps and glaciers seen today, which still comprise about 11.5 percent of Iceland. The biggest ice cap of Europe known as Vatnajöull, is in Southeast Iceland. Underneath it, hot springs melt the ice, forming a lake that is usually frozen on top.
A volcanic island, Iceland has no natural building materials, like wood. Most buildings are stone with roofs made out of corrugated iron.
Inland, the country is an infertile landscape similar to the moon. It is nearly uninhabited, especially in the winter. Of the 39,690 square miles the country covers, only the southern coastal plain supports vegetation. Most farms are found there, as is most of Iceland’s population of about 262,000.
The Nordic island of Iceland is and will always be known for its unique climate, and harsh, changing, beautiful terrain.
[Source: 100 Great Wonders of the World]