the fiery heart

We arrived two days early.  The LAVA  Center  was not yet open.  “We are little behind schedule. We will work 24/7 for the next two days.  We will open on Saturday.  It’s the Icelandic way.”

Installation of the moss turf outside the Lava Center. Photograph and Copyright Peter Mauss

Exterior of The Lava Center. Photograph and copyright Peter Mauss.

The LAVA center was designed by BASALT Architects located in Reykjavik.  Basalt is a member of the Icelandic Green Building Council and Nordic Built.

Photograph and copyright Peter Mauss

“But a future eruption might force us to move away.”

My knowledge of volcanoes goes back to elementary school.  When you are in Iceland, volcanoes are part of the landscape.  Just as politics might be on the minds of many Americans, Icelanders think about geology a lot.

The introductory corridor at the center.

The LAVA Center is an interactive museum.  The first thing you need to do is to get used to being in the dark.  The second thing is to get used to  the sound effects… except it’s not just noise.  The explosions, rumblings, and roarings are part of the experience.

This “creation” reaches nearly 20 ft.

Beneath Iceland’s crust, the most powerful flow of magma is confined to a mantle plume or hot spot.  This is one of several plumes around the world that originate within the earth’s mantle and extend upwards. Its center is located in the central highlands, near Vatnajokull.

Iceland is the largest island on the Mid Atlantic Ridge.  It has been built up by rising magma within a powerful mantle plume and magma emerging between diverging tectonic plates.

It’s impossible for me to describe how impactful this museum is.  You can stand on four individual metal plates on the floor and experience how different eruptions produce different kinds of shaking.

You can change the temperature on the screen in front of you and see how a volcano will change.

Or on your next trip to Iceland you can go to LAVA Center and experience what it must feel like to live near a volcano or you can sign up for eruption alerts on your phone.

Volcanoes be in Sicily
Emily Dickinson

Volcanoes be in Sicily
And South America
I judge from my Geography –
Volcanos nearer here
A Lava step at any time
Am I inclined to climb
A Crater I may contemplate
Vesuvius at Home.



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