Monday, June 24, 2013

Vík, re: your situation

Living in Vík is not just about puffins and black-sand beaches: it's also about danger and despair.

Here are three things about Vík that you shouldn't read if you ever want to sleep there:
  1. It lies directly beneath a 595-square-kilometre glacier called Mýrdalsjökull
  2. The glacier, like a big icy poncho, collars a 10 kilometre-wide volcano called Katla
  3. Katla, in Icelandic, means kettle.
A glacier

What does it all mean? For Vík, it means that obliteration is just around the corner, so close that if it were a cut-price supermarket you might say, 'Wow, that's convenient', and then start banging on to me about the price of jam and eggs. 

But it's not a cut-price supermarket—it's obliteration.

Katla has not erupted since 1918, but the next time it does (and it’s some 15 years overdue), Vík may well be wiped-out, its buildings washed away in the deluge. 

They say the high-grounded church should be spared, though, and so the town's 300 inhabitants have been instructed to assemble there. Now, I don't like putting a dampener on a fine plan, but when Katla erupted in 1755, the resulting floods were estimated to be equal in volume to the outflow of the Amazon, Mississippi, Nile, and Yangtze rivers combined. I would put first dibs on the spire. 

Regardless, despite all the impending doom, most of the townsfolk seemed to be wearing the same oblivious expression:

Then again, maybe those people were just tourists who didn't read up on any of this until after they'd left town.

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