Iceland – Surtsey 50 Anniversary
In the morning of 14 November 1963 fishermen from the Vestmannaeyjar saw a cloud of smoke rising from the ocean 18 km southwest of Heimaey island. The Surtsey eruption had commenced a few days earlier on the sea floor, at a depth of 130 m.
The volcanic eruption lasted until June 1967 with short intervals. Then the area of the island was about three km2, but it has been shrinking constantly due to sea encroachment and is now only half of what it was in the beginning. Life in great variety thrives on the island and many organisms have settled there. Seeds have arrived by sea to the island or been transmitted by wind and birds. Plants that have settled in the island thrive well and the luxuriant vegetation has started resembling the one found in bird colonies in the neigbouring islands. There is rich birdlife in the island with fulmars, black guillemot, kittiwakes and other bird species. Statistics forecast that in 160 years Surtsey will become a skerry. It will probably not be completely submerged in the sea because rock formations can be seen in the vicinity of the island, having been there for thousands of year. Surtsey was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2008.