Our travel company for Iceland gave us an opportunity on Tuesday to experience the life and sights that we would have seen in early May in Iceland itself, via a splendid hour long webinar on living in a natural hazard region, and how the Icelandic people have grown and adapted to their geologically unique country, which saddles the diverging gap between the two tectonic continental plates of North America and Eurasia. The result is a country peppered with active, dormant and extinct volcanoes, literally a result of the country growing, exposing the underlying mantle and adapting to the plates constantly dividing.
Known as a constructive plate boundary, as it builds new plate as lava rises and cools, the country is geologically about only 20 million years old - just a new-born when compared to the other countries on our planet - and the boundary runs right "under" Iceland down through the Atlantic Ocean to the southern hemisphere; The Mid Atlantic Ridge.
We were introduced to some of the human consequences of all this volcanic history on Iceland such as fertile yet loose soils, prone to wind erosion; how aluminium is made on Iceland due to the high value and cheap costs of geothermal energy; and how a huge slice of heating on the island - some might say an essential factor when choosing to live here - comes purely from cheap, geothermal energy production. And also that strawberries are grown here, as well as making available all-weather heated football pitches!
The extent to which residents have to go to, to protect themselves in Iceland, is not underestimated either. Residents of Vik for example, apparently have just 30 minutes to get to their muster points in the event of a local eruption, with detailed plans of what to do, pack, prepare and ensure.
Iceland is such a fascinating place, and we coukd talk for pages on Iceland's attraction for geographers. We in the Geography Department at TBS would like to thank Discover the World for their most interesting insight into Icelandic life via their webinar. It certainly left us thinking how much this country of just 360,000 people stand alone yet together, teaching the rest of the world how to live successfully with tectonic hazards on a daily basis.
Head of Geography / KS3 - IB Geography / Iceland 2020 Co-ordinator / 9MS Form Tutor