Lava-Cooling Operations During the 1973 Eruption of Eldfell Volcano,
Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland
U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 97-724

Title Page

Table of Contents

Editor's Introduction

Lava Cooling

Lava Cooling on Heimaey: Methods and Procedures

Appendix 2

Publication of Source Material

The volcanic eruption on Heimaey is still fresh in people's minds. During the eruption many scientists and engineers worked on various research projects on Heimaey, and many of them were also active in the salvage operations and in the implementation of preventive measures taken to diminish the destruction caused by the eruption.

All of these undertakings were performed in an orderly manner and under the supervision of people who kept records of this work, including the results and outcome, so that conclusions can be drawn from their findings. Therefore, the people who were involved are in possession of important facts, few of which have been published so far.

During the eruption, the Association of Chartered Engineers in Iceland [Verkfræðingafélag Íslands] held two meetings in which the natural disaster was on the agenda. After the eruption, the Association held one more meeting and discussed the eruption and its consequences from the technical point of view. Five lectures about various phases of the eruption and the measures used were given by men who had spent long periods of time on Heimaey during the eruption and followed all undertakings closely. These lectures and discussions at meetings on the subject to be introduced have been mentioned in previous issues of the journal.

During discussions at a meeting after the eruption occurred, the people who had been working on Heimaey were challenged to publish articles about their experiences, because much of what happened there is extraordinary and has no comparison in the world under the circumstances in which it occurred. It was also pointed out that there exist various source materials that provide definitive information about the history of the eruption and functions performed and, therefore, were facts to be preserved for later information and references.

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Tímarit Verkfræðingafélags Íslands [the Journal of the Association of Chartered Engineers in Iceland] immediately made arrangements to publish some of the source material that was discussed at the aforementioned meeting and now publishes the first article about the subject that was on the agenda at the meeting. The journal [editor] has received assurance that more material on the subject will be published in [future issues of] the journal. The journal has, in previous issues, encouraged publication of such articles and would like to do so again.

In view of that, those who are in possession of source material about the eruption and measures taken during it, are encouraged to prepare them for publication, and at the journal offers its services to [all] those interested. We want to thank all the people who have already made the source material more accessible to the people who were unable to follow the eruption at such close quarters.


[Páll Lúðvíksson, Editor]


[Note: The table-of-contents page of the journal includes a photograph of Próf. Þorbjörn Sigurgeirsson, with the eruption in the background. The photograph was also used as the cover of this issue of Tímarit Verkfræðingafélags Íslands but is not included in this open-file report. Another photograph (see fig. 1) is substituted.]

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Biographical Sketches of the Authors

Prófessor Valdimar Kr. Jónsson:

Prófessor Valdimar Kr. Jónsson was born on 20 August 1934. He finished the first half of his undergraduate studies in engineering at the University of Iceland in 1957 and received his degree in mechanical engineering from the DTH [Danske Technische Hochschule], Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1960, and his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in 1965, after five years of study and research there. He worked as an engineer for the "Regncentralen" in Copenhagen and for Orkustofnun [National Energy Authority] in Iceland in 1960. He taught at the Imperial College of Science and Technology in London from 1965 to 1969. He was professor at Pennsylvania State University in the United States [State College, Pennsylvania] from 1969 to 1972. He has published many scientific articles in English and U.S. technical journals.

Matthías Matthíasson:

Matthías Matthíasson, technical engineer, was born on 14 October 1937. He graduated from the DTH, Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1962. He did graduate work at the University of Kansas during the years 1962-1963 and 1964-1965. He worked for Hjá Íslenzkum Aðalverktökum [The Icelandic Prime Contractors] during the summer of 1962 and 1963 and for Vermir sf. engineering firm (now Vermir hf.) from 1963 to the present. In 1969, he became executive manager of the firm.

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