Bucket List: Iceland

This week in Geology we’re studying mountain belts and continental crusts. My assignment for this blog is to explain the anatomy of a mid-ocean ridge. So read on, because it’s pretty cool.

The screenshot above from Google Earth is of the elevation profile across the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, which wraps around the globe like the seam of a baseball. The elevation insert reflects the green line on the map that I chose to examine.  The red line on Google Earth is the tectonic plate boundary between the North American plate and the Eurasian plate. At this divergent plate boundary, volcanic activity is pushing the plates apart. Rock melts and wells upward (note the high peak in the elevation chart), and this is where the seafloor is spreading with basalt . Over time it spreads farther from the source and cools and compacts.

I know what you’re thinking: Since the Mid-Atlantic Ridge extends 25,000 miles, why did she choose this particular place to examine? I’ll tell you why. Because this location is amazing! Why? Because 90% of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge is under water, but it pops up in a couple of places, mostly in Iceland. Check out these photos!

Mid-Atlantic Ridge, Reykjanes Ridge, Iceland. Photo by HeatherMG, flickr
Want to scuba dive between two tectonic plates? You can at Silfra Fissure in Thingvellir National Park — the largest natural lake in Iceland. Photo by r.gielen, flickr.
Want to walk between tectonic plates? All you need is a plane ticket to Iceland… Photo by Andrea Schaffer, flickr.

Read more cool information about straddling tectonic plates on Amusing Planet.

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