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Living between fire and ice

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By Kirsten Peters

The good citizens of Iceland have two mega-problems this spring. One is their economic and banking situation, which is still in something close to meltdown mode. I cannot fathom finances and economics, so I’m in no position to really follow that part of the current and dreary Icelandic saga.

But the other is geological, and that’s a piece of the story a rock-head like me can better understand.

Since the days the Norse settled Iceland more than a thousand years ago, they have had to live with the fact that the Atlantic Ocean basin is slowly but steadily growing. And that matters because the growth is taking place due to volcanoes — including the ones creating their island nation. In short, Iceland is a high point of what geologists call the Mid-Atlantic ridge that is leading to the basin’s growth over time, both east and west via spreading at the ridge. Most of the ridge is underwater, but in Iceland it rises above the sea so people can live on it (if they are hardy enough, at least).


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