August 16, 2008 Issue

Physics To Go 55 - New volcano, new island

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Physics in Your World

The Island of Surtsey, Iceland image
image credit: IKONOS Satellite image courtesy of GeoEye; image source; larger image

The Island of Surtsey, Iceland

This is Surtsey, a volcanic island formed in 1963 off the southern coast of Iceland, which lies astride the the mid-Atlantic Ridge (the boundary of the North American and the Eurasian tectonic plates).  To learn more about this image, see The Island of Surtsey, Iceland. To see how the plate boundary runs right through Iceland, go to the Smithsonian Institution's This Dynamic Planet, and zoom in on Iceland (it's in the upper right corner of the map).

(This feature was updated on July 20, 2013.)

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Physics at Home

Seafloor Spreading Interactive Animations

Try UCAR's Seafloor Spreading Interactive Animations for a simulation of the magnetic stripes on the ocean bottom--you can spot them by moving a compass around on a map of the mid-Atlantic Ridge.  For related geophysics simulations from Cornell, see the Plate Tectonics section of Discover Our Earth.


From Physics Research

This Dynamic Earth: Developing the Theory image
image credit: Mr. Elliot Lim, CIRES & NOAA/NGDC; image source (see first four files); larger image

This Dynamic Earth: Developing the Theory

This image shows the age of the ocean bottom near the Mid-Atlantic Ridge--you can find Iceland off the east coast of Greenland (and this ridge runs right through Iceland).  Red indicates rock about 20 million years old; to see all of Earth's surface, and the whole color key, check out Crustal Age of the Ocean Floor. To understand how the theory of plate tectonics explains the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, visit This Dynamic Earth: Developing the Theory.

Worth a Look

Magnetic Reversals and Moving Continents

Magnetic stripes on the ocean floor provide the key evidence for the plate tectonic theory and seafloor spreading. To learn more, visit Magnetic Reversals and Moving Continents and Magnetic Stripes and Isotopic Clocks.

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