You will now begin your virtual exploration of one of the largest lava flow eruptions in recorded history: the 1783 Laki fissure event in southern Iceland. First, let's consider the unique country of Iceland in the North Atlantic. With a population of 300,000, its origin has been purely volcanic!    
  Iceland sits on top of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a vast volcanic mountain chain that is entirely submerged except in Iceland. The Mid-Atlantic Ridge marks the plate boundary between the North American plate to the west, and the Eurasian plate to the east. They move apart in this region at a rate of about 2 cm per year. Iceland derives its volcanism in part from the spreading of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, and in part from a hot spot located in the mantle beneath central Iceland. The combined volcanic production of the hot spot and the spreading ridge is much higher than on normal mid-ocean ridges, and as a result Iceland has risen well above sea level.    
 
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Because of its northerly location, about one tenth of this entirely volcanic country is covered by glaciers. Most of the glaciers sit on top of active volcanoes.
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