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Man Against Volcano: The Eruption on Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland

By Richard S. Williams, Jr., and James G. Moore

This out-of-print General-Interest Publication has been made available in Portable Document Format. The booklet was originally published in 1976 under the title "Man Against Volcano: The Eruption on Heimaey, Vestmann Islands, Iceland." The revised second edition was published in 1983. This PDF file is a recreation of the 1983 booklet.

One of the most destructive volcanic eruptions in the history of Iceland began in the early morning of January 23,1973, near the Nation's premier fishing port, the town of Vestmannaeyjar, on Heimaey, the only inhabited isle in the Vestmannaeyjar volcanic archipelago.

lava-covered houses

This 28-page booklet discusses the impact of the 1973 volcanic eruption of Eldfell on the island of Heimaey. Before the eruption was over, approximately one-third of the town of Vestmannaeyjer had been obliterated, but, more importantly, the potential damage probably was reduced by the spraying of seawater onto the advancing lava f!ows, causing them to be slowed, stopped, or diverted from the undamaged portion of the town.

The publication is based on observations by the authors, both with the US. Geological Survey, as well as on information from the Icelandic Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Icelandic scientists' reports through the Center for Short-Lived Phenomena, other published scientific reports, and articles in popular publications.

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See also USGS Open-File Report 97-724, "Lava-Cooling Operations During the 1973 Eruption of Eldfell Volcano, Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland."

VIEW a list of other USGS General Interest Publications

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Last modified 13 April 2000

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