The first reason why Iceland utilizes its volcanic activity to its advantage is by using geothermal energy.
Geothermal energy production works by the radioactive decay f several types of rocks containing radioactive substances (such as uranium) releasing heat energy. In the volcanic areas in Iceland, the rocks heat the water so that it then rises to the surface (naturally) as hot water and steam. The steam can then be used to drive turbines and electricity generators, thus creating the energy used to heat homes & greenhouses, and other reasons such as fish farming and other electricity in general.
By using geothermal energy, it will cost less to get electricity since it is both renewable, and the cheapest source of power generation, therefore saving Iceland money. The government believes that exploiting geothermal energy for space heating alone saves Iceland £50m in imported fossil fuels each year! Geothermal energy also means no harmful gases such as CO2 are being released into the atmosphere. The demand for imported coal is also not very high since it is not needed for the production of geothermal energy. Geothermal water is used to heat around 90% of Iceland’s homes, and also the water is purified and cooled for cold drinking water. Also Iceland is able to grow crops that would not normally grow since there are greenhouses heated with geothermal energy, making Iceland be able to grow crops such as potatoes, turnips, carrots and cabbage.
Geothermal energy in Iceland happened by accident! In 1907, a farmer in west Iceland took steam from a hot spring that ran below his farm through a concrete pipe and into his house several meters above. A few years later, another farmer became the first Icelander to use hot spring water for heating, and extensive distribution of hot water to heat homes began in the capital in 1930.
Another way in which Iceland utilizes its volcanic activity is by using its beautiful scenery to attract tourists. Iceland is mainly famous for its geysers and hot springs. People come from all around the world to see these, bringing in lots of money and creating lots of jobs. Hot springs are ponds, portions of a lake, or pools in which water has been naturally heated underground. A very popular hot spring in Iceland is The Blue Lagoon. The temperature of the Blue Lagoon averages to about
The Blue Lagoon
40C. Even though the lagoon may not look it, it is actually man made, yet it still uses volcanic activity to heat it. This is because it is heated by geothermal energy (explained in the page before) making it not completely natural, yet more man made than the other hot springs which rely completely on the volcanic activity to heat them up.
People also come to see the Geysers. These are also hot springs yet they are so hot that the water intermittently boils, sending a tall column of water and steam into the air. With the growing amount of tourists coming to visit Iceland to see these, more and more money is being made for Iceland and more and more jobs are being created too. Therefore Tourism is a good way of Iceland utilizing its volcanic activity.
MINERALS FROM THE GROUND
Another way that Iceland utilizes its volcanic activity is by collecting rocks and minerals from the ground to sell. In Iceland, there are over 300 different types of minerals that have been found. Minerals can also be classified in a different number of ways, for example by distinguishing between primary minerals (rock-forming), and secondary minerals such as zeolites, which are formed as already existing rocks undergo various processes of change.
Minerals are also classified on the basis of their crystal structure and chemical composition. Every year since 1980 (when the methodical collection and identification of Icelandic minerals at the IINH began), an average of three new Icelandic minerals have been found every year. Most of these minerals have come from the eruptions that have happened in Iceland. By selling these minerals Iceland is earning more money and in the future, the IINH hopes that its mineral collection will reflect the full diversity of Iceland’s mineral wealth.