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Iceland - The Land of Fire and Ice

Iceland...The Land of Fire and IceIceland [near center] is part of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge that owes its very existence to the molten rock, or magma, that wells up through the rifts along the ridge. Scientists believe Iceland rose from the sea floor about 20 million years ago. Continuous spreading, accompanied by eruptions along Iceland's section of the ridge, widens the country by about one inch per year.

Over one third of Iceland's 40,000 square miles is volcanically active and loaded with lava fields. Elsewhere, magma too far below the surface to create volcanoes heats the rock above, sending the heated groundwater percolating to the surface in the form of "hot springs." Iceland is far enough north so that it should be entirely covered by ice and snow, like Greenland to the west. The heat generated by the ridge, however, keeps the country in a constant state of thaw, distinguishing it as the Land of Fire and Ice.
   
Thanks to Bruce Heezen and Marie Tharpe.


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