We rented a home near Selfoss in Iceland. When the owners were showing us around the place they pointed out this poster that explained what we should do if………Hekla the nearby volcano should begin to erupt. Hekla is one of Iceland’s most active volcanoes. It last erupted in 2000. On a rainy day we decided to visit the LAVA museum in nearby Hvolsvöllur to learn more about volcanoes. After watching a movie that showed the most recent eruptions of Icelandic volcanoes we walked down this eerie hallway……..that had panels of information about each of the most active volcanoes in the country. As you go through the museum they try to recreate volcanic effects by having the floor move and divide beneath your feet and having you find your way through a corridor of dense steam.By turning the wheel on this map of Iceland we could see how the various volcanoes had developed and changed. Iceland has some thirty active volcano systems, thirteen of which have erupted since humans settled on the island. In this room interactive screens helped us learn about different kinds of volcanic eruptions and their effects. In one area you could look up and down at this gigantic recreation of the mantle plume beneath Iceland’s crust. Here screens that surround you recreate the visual effect of a volcanic eruption. Dave is looking at information about the Hekla volcano nearest the house where we were staying. In medieval times people called the Hekla volcano The Gates of Hell.
Most interesting to me were recorded interviews you could watch of people who live in communities near volcanoes and how that impacts their lives. One woman talked about how they teach children about volcanoes in a way that will keep them safe and informed but not scare them too much. “What we try to emphasize to the children,” said the woman, “is that when there have been volcanic eruptions in Iceland people came together and helped each other and took care of each other and rebuilt together. And we reassure them that will happen again if there is another volcanic eruption.”