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Photographer's Note

The Norsemen, popularly known now as the Vikings, swept out of Scandinavia and colonized the Northern Atlantic Island of Iceland between AD 870 and 930. From there they also sailed to Greenland (ironically covered in far more ice than Greenland), and then by AD 1000 established an outpost in Nova Scotia. Almost 500 years before Columbus discovered the New World, the Viking Leif Erickson already had a settlement. North America and its natives, and Greenland and its lack of fertile ground, however, discouraged the Vikings from staying. In Iceland the population is almost all homogeneous in its Norse genes, and they still speak a brand of the original language closer to the original Norse, than do the Scandinavians of Norway, Sweden and Denmark.

Geologically, Iceland, is located on the mid-Atlantic Ridge, where a continuous seam or fissure on the planet, witnesses the birth of new land. Tectonic plates gliding over the surface of the earth, separate as magma oozes out between the tectonic plates. Then in other regions, in subduction zones, the surface plunges into the planets in deep fissures. Thus in places the plates undergo separation and in other places collision.

The magnificent islands of French Polynesia and the American islands of Hawaii, all located on the mid-Pacific ridge, were similarly created by volcanic activity. The earth's surface grows on these ridges, but then in distinction contracts at subduction zones. There the tectonic plates collide, they fold, or they slide under each other. The ridges and subduction zones are collectively known as "fault lines." The worst of earthquakes on earth takes place at subduction zones, e.g. in Alaska, Chile, Japan...

In Iceland, that wondrous land of ice and fire, the North American Plate and the Euro-Asian Plate separate with a speed of 2 cm per year. A wide fertile valley exists in Iceland, created by the lava that has emerged over time and cooled down.

Below ground abound regions of hot and warm geothermal zones. These two photos, taken less than a second apart, show an erupting geyser. As everyone knows, water boils at 100°C (212°F). But at Iceland's "Geysir," approximately an hour's drive from Reykjavik, underground water superheated to 250°C (482°F) by volcanic activity below ground, forms huge bubbles in the deep pool of water. A bubble (lower photo) is seen just as it breaks the surface of the pool, and bursts forth with explosive drama (upper photo). The particular bubble I captured measured around 3-4 meters in diameter and its eruption reached 10-15 meters (35-50 feet) above ground as scalding water and steam. The period of the eruptions is between 5-8 minutes. The pool is cordoned off to keep visitors at a safe distance. I am posting a photo of a warning sign in the workshop.

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Additional Photos by Bulent Atalay (batalay) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6781 W: 471 N: 12169] (41261)
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