Geology of Iceland

The geology of Iceland is unique and of particular interest to geologists. Iceland lies on the divergent boundary between the Eurasian plate and the North American plate. It also lies above a hotspot, the Iceland plume, which is believed to have caused the formation of Iceland itself, the island first appearing over the ocean surface about 16 to 18 million years ago.[1][2] The result is an island characterised by repeated volcanism and geothermal phenomena such as geysers.

The eruption of Laki in 1783 caused much devastation and loss of life; lead to famine which then killed approximately 25% of the island's human population,[3] caused a drop in global temperatures, as sulfur dioxide was spewed into the Northern Hemisphere. This caused crop failures in Europe and may have caused droughts in India. The eruption has been estimated to have killed over six million people globally,[4] making it the deadliest in historical times.

In the period 1965 to 1969 the new island of Surtsey was created on the southwest coast by a volcanic eruption.


Opening of the North Atlantic

Cenozoic fossiliferous strata


Holocene changes and volcanism

Human impact and natural catastrophes

Current climate change

Current tectonics

See also


  1. Tobias Weisenberger (2013). "Introduction to the geology of Iceland".
  2. "Catalogue of the Active Volcanoes of the World, Vol. 24" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-08-01.
  3. Gunnar Karlsson (2000), Iceland's 1100 Years, p. 181
  4. How The Earth Was Made: The Age of Earth (video),

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