Sunday, March 3, 2024

Iceland Wild Nature and the Unpredictable “Monster” Below

When I felt my first earthquake in Iceland wild, I bolted for the nearest door frame, thinking it was the safe move, right? I was in my attic apartment, surrounded by those slanted ceilings in one of Reykjavík’s famous bárujárn houses. Man, the idea of that old place giving way freaked me out.

Shaking didn’t last long, but my legs felt like jelly, and my heart was still racing long after.

Face-to-Face with Volcanoes

Then came my first sight of an active volcano during the Fimmvörðuháls eruption in March 2010, followed by the notorious Eyjafjallajökull eruption. Decked out in snow gear, I rode a snowmobile across Sólheimajökull glacier at sunset. I got to see a fissure vent shooting up liquid magma high into the sky. It was mind-blowing! The sound of the Earth doing its thing, that’s what stuck with me the most.

I grew up near Toronto, where earthquakes and volcanoes were things I only saw on TV or read about in National Geographic. Iceland’s natural fireworks were a whole new ball game for me.

Iceland’s Mix of Beauty and Danger

Iceland got this stunning physical beauty with not a ton of trees and these vast lava fields that people call “out of this world,” and yeah, it’s kinda true. But let me tell you, while it’s beautiful, you gotta respect it or you might find yourself in trouble.

The locals know this well. They live in a beautiful yet potentially dangerous place.

Recent Trouble in Grindavík

Here’s an example: Grindavík, a small town not too far from Reykjavík on the Reykjanes peninsula’s south coast. Due to potential volcanic activity, folks there have had to crash at their friends’ places or bunk in at Red Cross emergency shelters across the country. Most of the area’s safe, but they had to bail because an eruption seemed imminent, according to the Icelandic Meteorological Office.

Living on Volcanic Ground

The Grindavík residents were pretty chill despite the quakes happening close to home. They stuck around until things got hairy.

The Reykjanes peninsula ramped up its volcanic activity in 2019, with more earthquakes and ground movement near Fagradalsfjall volcano. It erupted in March 2021, then again in July 2022 and 2023. They called these “tourist eruptions,” way off the beaten path and safe enough for those ready to hike 10 km to check them out.

Even in Reykjavík, we felt the stronger tremors. In my sturdier concrete home, I could sense the rumblings before the jolt hit.

A Whole Different Scene in Grindavík

Iceland. The recent wave of seismic activity from October 25 was a game-changer for Grindavík. No more funny stories about folks trying to deal with the constant shaking. The epicenter had moved right under their town, and someone described it as a “monster under their feet.” It all reached a boiling point on November 10, forcing the evacuation of Grindavík’s 3,700 residents.

Facing Nature’s Fury

Luckily, nobody got hurt. Although the quakes have settled down, it’s a stark reminder of how unpredictable Iceland’s wild side can be, especially for people living here.

Since the eruption that rocked the Westman Islands in 1973, no entire town has been evacuated in Iceland. Now, everyone’s on standby, wondering if the Grindavík residents will ever get back home. Heck, they might not even want to.

Thinking back to my first volcano sighting, I really hope these natural wonders won’t be remembered for wrecking people’s homes.