Fox News says volcanic eruption a sign of doomsday; Icelanders laugh
Since the March 20 eruption, volcano experts have been warning it might signal that a bigger, more serious eruption of the volcano Katla is on its way. After I've recounted this knowledge to them excitedly, many Icelanders I know have taken this news in stride, reminding me, with a shoulder shrug, that if you live in Iceland, you should pretty much expect it.
One Icelander I know showed me a Fox News report on YouTube that was basically a forecast for doomsday. It was a laughing stock at the office.
The Icelandic attitude about volcanic eruptions ranges from proud to blasé. For example, in 1973, the Westman Islands off the south coast of Iceland experienced a volcanic eruption that covered a town in lava and ash. But to Westman Islanders this was no Vesuvius. Everyone knew how to deal with it, and evacuated safely. When it was over they came back, dug their town up, and moved back in.
Maybe it's kind of equivalent to Vancouverites' attitude toward the rain, except with molten lava and ash.
I've stumbled across a pretty special time to be in Iceland, especially as a journalist. I'm staying and working in Reykjavik as an intern at The Reykjavik Grapevine. People here have been very excited about the news of the new eruption, which came yesterday. The news is on everyone's lips. It's talked about without any doom and gloom, but instead with a sort of glee.
My sense is that since the small 'tourist' eruption (not this current bigger one) started here on March 20, conveniently three days before I was scheduled to leave Vancouver for Iceland, Icelanders had come to feel pretty chuffed about their cute, inoffensive little eruption. On my first weekend here I went to see it from a few kilometres off, and there was literally a traffic jam on the narrow gravel path on the last leg of our trip. The country's geology is part of the national psyche here and everyone wants to experience it, if it's benign.