Geology And Geophysics

History of the Hekla Volcanic Euprtions in Iceland



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On April 19, 2010 rumors surfaced that the famed Icelandic volcano, Hekla, had erupted five days after Eyjafjallajokull had awakened and spewed tremendous amounts of ash causing a lot of chaos, disruption and havoc across Iceland and Europe.

Fortunately Hekla did not erupt and Iceland does not have to experience the fallout from another major volcano simultaneously. The rumors at the time were quickly unfounded and it was determined the footage claimed to be Hekla was actually film of Eyjafjallajokull which continues to have seismic activity and rumblings after the major eruption on April 14, 2010.

While Hekla hasn't erupted in this time frame, it certainly has a history of frequent eruptions. Here is a bit more on the background of Hekla Volcano and it's chronological history of eruptions:

*Volcano's Profile

Hekla is one of the most famous volcanoes in Iceland. The volcano sits on a 25 mile long volcanic fissure and the mountainous area of the volcano itself is around three miles long and stands approximately 5000 feet high. Geologists estimate Hekla to be around six to seven thousand years old and will have a much longer life expectancy; geologists state it to be around 100,000 years (http://www.nat.is).

*History of Eruptions

The first documented eruption of Hekla is dated back to 874, however the biggest eruption occurred in 1104. This volcanic explosion caused major devastation in the region where people resided. Just short of 200 years later 1300 Hekla awoke once again. This eruption caused much darkness because the volcano continued to erupt for about a year. The region experienced a lot of death and famine with the 1300 volcanic eruption.

The next round of eruptions occurred closer together in time. In 1510 another Hekla eruption took place and then again in 1693. In the latter it is reported on www.nat.is that 14 craters were active at the same time and caused wide devastation. The 1766 eruption lasted two years with 18 active craters.

Less than 100  years later the eruption of 1845 lasted 7 months. In 1947 it is reported that this volcanic eruption lasted 13 months of constant activity that took no reprieves before it finally settled down. The highest volcanic cloud was reported to have reached 20 miles high.

The  next round of eruptions of Hekla occurred even closer together. These were listed as 1970, 1980, 1981, and 1991. These were all considered to be minor in compared to the ones of earlier decades and centuries. In 2000 Hekla awakened again with more of a fury and lasted approximately three weeks.

*Legend

According to legend the volcano was named Hekla because it was thought it was "one of the two known legends of Hell" (www.nat.is) and no one would go near it. In 1750 two climbers decided to ascend to the top and see what they could find; no evidence of any entrance to Hell was found and since that time people have been less fearful about approaching the mountain.

Hekla is one of the most well-known volcanoes in the heavily volcanic region.

References:

http://www.nat.is/travelguideeng/plofin_mt_hekla.htm

http://www.icelandtravel.is/about-iceland/destination-guide/south/detail/item350304/Hekla/

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