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Hekla, Iceland

Mount Hekla is without a doubt Iceland's most famous volcano.

It is still very active, erupting most recently in 1970, 1980, 1981 and in 1991. The last eruption started on 26th February in 2000 and lasted for 12 days; the lava from this eruption covers approximately 18 km2.

Instead of a classical volcano cone, Hekla is part of a rather squat series of ridges, although this is usually hidden behind a thick bank of clouds that earned Mount Hekla its menacing name, which means the hooded one.

Soon after the settlement period, in 1104, Hekla showed that it was a presence to be feared as it erupted without warning and devastated 20 farms in the Þjórsárdalur valley. Indeed the volcano's fame grew so much that the Europeans in the Middle Ages believed it was the gateway to hell.

The volcanic eruptions from Hekla are spectacular as the mountain is 1,493 m high and towers over the lowlands of the south.

Over the past 7000 years Mount Hekla has had five big fissure eruptions.

The biggest layer of tephra from one eruption fell in the eruption 2800 years ago. It covers about 80% of the country and its volume was around 12 cubic km. Traces of it has been found in various places in Scandinavia.