07 july 2014
Helga Jonsdottir still remembers in vivid detail the day her island home was swallowed by a volcano as she and her family joined others fleeing the molten lava.
“As my boat left the harbor, the fissure opened up, and flames burst into the sky,” she recalls.
“The fissure extended into the ocean, and I could see red-hot lava beneath the water.”
Jonsdottir was 18 in January 1973 when the Eldfell volcano exploded on Heimaey, a small island 151 kilometers (94 miles) from the Icelandic capital, Reykjavik.
Her childhood home was among 400 buildings engulfed as 200 million tons of ash and lava rained down in the days following the eruption.
Some of these structures have now emerged, perfectly preserved beneath the volcanic debris following an archaeological excavation begun six years ago.
Worlds of fire
The result is a captivating new museum, Eldheimar, meaning “worlds of fire,” which opened its doors in May 2014.
At the museum, visitors can revisit 1973, see a snapshot of life on Heimaey and also get insight into the devastation wreaked by the volcano.