ur world is filled with numerous fantastic places that had formed within thousands or millions of years. It is incredible to think that the seven continents on which we live were once one piece of land. In a 200 million-year-old process they started to split and become what they are today. Geographical shifts are truly a rare site within history for the modern human (Homo-sapiens). However, many people seem to not be aware that they have actually lived through the creation of a piece of land on this planet that was not man-made.
Mother Nature giving Birth
On November 14th, 1963 a new island emerged from the sea 32 kilometers (20 miles) from the coast of Iceland. This new island emerged due to underwater volcanic eruptions that had taken place between 1963 to 1967. The power of the volcanic eruption was so big that it actually ended up creating an island within 4 years.
Can you believe that this island is only 58 years old? There are many people out there older than this piece of land. When the event happened, it was actually recorded by the National Centres for Environmental Information (NOAA). The photographer named Howell Williams was astonished to be present at what could have been best described as a once-in-a-lifetime moment.
During the 4 years, the island kept growing and it stopped in 1967 when the volcanic eruption also from beneath the island. Present the island measures 33.7 square kilometers (13 square miles). When the event was first noticed, it had been an exciting time within the field of geology. Despite the great news, due to social media not yet being a thing the news was quite slow to go around the world. Society itself at the time was not very bothered about such scientific events taking place or maybe they simply didn’t understand the significance of the event.
Here is some rare footage from when Howell Williams filmed the creation of the island at the end of 1963, a few days before the first volcanic eruption took place:
In 1964 when the eruptions started to calm down a bit, scientists all over the world went to analyze the island. They have confirmed that by 1964 bacteria and other microorganisms had already inhabited the island. By 1965 grass and small plantations started to grow on the island without anyone planting any sort of seeds.
The steam that came from the lava making contact with water would rise to 6 kilometers (4 miles) in the sky whilst raining ash over close parts of Iceland. Measuring from the ocean floor, in 1967 the elevation of the island was 290 meters (950 feet) and 171 meters (560 feet) above sea level. TO describe it in simple terms, the lava from constant volcanic eruptions over a period of 4 years kept piling up as it would become a solid due to water. This is how the island was created.
An Island No one is Allowed to Visit
The island may not be around for much longer as in 2008 erosion started to decay. The elevation of Surtsey had been reduced by 21 meters above sea level and 1.4 square kilometers have been trimmed off. Since UNESCO has taken their island as heritage they do not allow anyone to visit the island as this would put its life in jeopardy.
In 2014 Iceland Magazine had confirmed that the island is constantly decaying and experts mentioned that the island will surely die. At the moment the erosion rate is around 100 meters per year. At the moment there are only about 30 square kilometers left of the island, meaning that in about 300 years Surtsey island will most probably be gone.