Surtsey is a volcanic island off the southern coast of Iceland, the southernmost point of Iceland. It was formed in a volcanic eruption which began 130 metres (426 ft) below sea level, and reached the surface on 14 November 1963. The eruption may have started a few days earlier and lasted until 5 June 1967, when the island reached its maximum size of 2.7 km² (1.0 mi²). Since then, wind and wave erosion has caused the island to steadily diminish in size: as of 2002, its surface area was 1.4 km² (0.54 mi²). The new island was named after the fire god Surtr from Norse mythology, and was intensively studied by volcanologists during its creation and, since the end of the eruption, has been of great interest to botanists and biologists as life has gradually colonised the originally barren island. The undersea vents that produced Surtsey are part of the Vestmannaeyjar (Westmann Isles) submarine volcanic system, part of the fissure of the sea floor called the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Vestmannaeyjar also produced the famous eruption of Eldfell on the island of Heimaey in 1973. The eruption that created Surtsey also created a few other small islands along this volcanic chain, such as Jólnir and other unnamed peaks. Most of these eroded away fairly quickly.

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Today's selected anniversaries:


Frederick of Isenberg was executed for the murder of his cousin Engelbert of Berg, the Archbishop of Cologne.


Bolívar's War: Colombian seamstress Policarpa Salavarrieta was executed by firing squad by the Spanish in Bogotá for working as a spy for the revolutionary forces in New Granada.


Nellie Bly, reporter for the New York World, departed on her successful attempt to travel Around the World in Eighty Days, eventually completing her journey in only seventy-two days.


World War II: Coventry Cathedral and much of the city centre of Coventry, England were destroyed by the German Luftwaffe during the Coventry Blitz.


NASA's Mariner 9 reached Mars, becoming the first spacecraft to orbit another planet.

Wiktionary's word of the day:

extirpate   (v)      1. To pull up by the roots; uproot.
   2. To destroy completely; to annihilate.

Wikiquote quote of the day:

He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.
--Friedrich Nietzsche