|  Share | Cite


Surtsey, volcanic island, c.1.25 sq mi (3.2 sq km), S of Iceland in Vestmannaeyjar (Westman Islands). The island was formed by the eruption (Nov., 1963) of Sutur, an underwater volcano named for a giant of Icelandic legend. For four months the fissure, estimated to be c.1,500 ft (460 m) long, emitted explosions of ash, cinders, and pumice in a column rising more than 1,000 ft (305 m). Lava flows beginning in Apr., 1964, formed a shell that helped assure the continuing existence of the island. The eruptions ended in 1967. Scientists were able to study the formation of tornadoes, waterspouts, hail, and lightning—all manifestations of the volcano itself—as well as the first evidence of life on the new island. Surtsey was designated a nature reserve in 1965.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

More on Surtsey from Infoplease:

  • Surtsey: meaning and definitions - Surtsey: Definition and Pronunciation
  • Vestmannaeyjar - Vestmannaeyjar Vestmannaeyjar , group of 15 small islands, c.10 mi (16 km) S of Iceland. In English ...
  • island - island island, relatively small body of land surrounded entirely by water. (As the oceans form a ...
  • volcano: Historical Volcanoes - Historical Volcanoes Notable eruptions within historic times have been those of Vesuvius, in Italy ...
  • ISLANDS - An island is an area of land smaller than a continent and entirely surrounded by water. Islands range from single rocks to huge landmasses, such as th

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Scandinavian Physical Geography