When Iceland comes to mind, many think of some of this country’s most known features. It’s somewhat remote, being located in the North Atlantic. It’s roughly the size of Kentucky but with a population that is less than a tenth of that state’s. In fact, with 350,000 living there, Iceland is one of the least-populated countries in Europe. Due to its small population size, the country also received a considerable amount of attention when its national soccer team advanced to the Euro 2016 quarter-finals. Its fans’ Viking clap, often performed at that competition, became famous.
However, what few know is that it is part of the world’s longest mountain range, the Mid-Atlantic Range. The main reason why this is so little known is due to the mountain range behind located below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean throughout the vast majority of its incredible length of 40,000 miles. This mountain range reaches a depth of 13,000 feet but is above sea level in a few areas such as in Iceland.
The Mid-Atlantic Ridge is also where the Atlantic Ocean is getting wider and wider, at a rate of an inch or two a year. An eight-month eruption even occurred in Iceland in 1783. The amount of sulfuric acid aerosol that was expelled into the air then ended up being 80 times what had been released when Mount St. Helens erupted in 1980. A total of 10,000 people, a quarter of Iceland’s population at the time, died as a result of that 1783 eruption. Of course, most of the eruptions along this ridge are not noticed since they generally take place far below the ocean’s surface.
Those interested in simultaneously touching two continental plates can do so in Iceland. In fact, this is the only place in the world where this can be done while diving.