Sometimes the Mid-Ocean Ridge
shows itself above the surface of the sea.
On November 14, 1963, something amazing occurred.
Early that morning, several miles off the southern
coast of Iceland, fishermen noticed black smoke
bubbling from the sea. Some thought it was a boat
on fire. Others believed it might be an undersea
volcano erupting far below on the ocean floor. But
by evening, a ridge of hardening lava was noticed
just below the waves. And by the following morning,
a tiny island had emerged above the surface.
Earths newest island was given the name Surtsey
- after the Icelandic god of fire - Surtur. Surtsey
continued to erupt off and on for three and a half
years and eventually grew to an area of approximately
one square mile. Like Iceland to its north, Surtsey
provided scientists with one of the rare surface
displays of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.
Surtsey and Iceland are actually a part of the Mid-Atlantic
Ridge. They owe their very existence to the molten
rock, or magma, that wells up through the rifts
along the ridge. Just as Surtsey rose from the sea
floor in 1963, scientists believe that about 20
million years ago Iceland, the land of fire
and ice, rose from the sea floor in a similar
fashion. Continuous spreading and eruptions along
Icelands section of the ridge widens the island
country by about one inch every year.