By Joan Larsen
The ocean off Iceland was fairly calm fifty years ago when a fishing boat spotted fire in the distance. In this empty ocean, it would have to have been another fishing boat burning to cause such color in the skies. The crew sped toward the scene, only to see a volcano arising from the ocean, spewing lava skyward, endlessly. As they watched from afar now, an island began to form, over time becoming a major island that was called Surtsey.
As a volcano lover from childhood, I waited years to find a small plane to fly me over the island . . . but even now, only a few scientists have been allowed on the island to understand how an island draws birds to nest and floating islands of vegetation to drift in and sprout. My pleas to actually land on Surtsey – even by rowboat – naturally fell on deaf ears. But I tried more than once.
And so I continue to watch it from the sky.
But then – in the summer of 2006 – at the opposite end of the world, the remote South Pacific, Fredrik Fransson and the passengers on the private yacht “Maiken” were drifting in the crystal clear waters in nowhere, enjoying their privacy, when again the unbelievable happened. An island, full blown in a short time, emerged from the empty ocean.
With the technology of our times, the passengers were able to capture the story on film as it was happening. And so, for the first time, we can see the scenes themselves of the birth of an island.
“Volcanoes are one way Earth gives birth to itself.”
– Robert Gross
Writer Joan Larsen has spent a lifetime searching for the most remote places on Earth. But it is the polar regions of our world that she has been drawn back to again and again. She has done research in these lands of ice, and considers Antarctica to be her “other home.”