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The sea floor at the eruption site is 130 metres (426 ft) below sea level, and at this depth volcanic emissions and explosions would be suppressed, quenched and dissipated by the water pressure and density.Gradually, as repeated flows built up a mound of material that approached sea level, the explosions could no longer be contained, and activity broke the surface.
The eruption ultimately lasted three-and-a-half years, ending in June 1967.
Today, wind and wave erosion that eat away at Surtsey steadily, reclaiming some of its land mass.
As of 2002, however, Surtsey’s surface area was 1.4 square kilometers (0.54 square miles), according to the Surtsey Research Society.
The undersea vents that produced Surtsey are part of the Vestmannaeyjar 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 first noticeable indications of volcanic activity were recorded at the seismic station in Kirkjubæjarklaustur, Iceland from 6 to 8 November, which detected weak tremors emanating from an epicentre approximately west-south-west at a distance of 140 km (87 mi), the location of Surtsey.
Another station in Reykjavík recorded even weaker tremors for ten hours on 12 November at an undetermined location, when seismic activity ceased until 21 November. | The new-born island of Surtsey, off the coast of Iceland, on November 30, 1963.Howell Williams captured this photo 16 days after the eruption that created Surtsey began. – sailing south of Iceland – spotted a column of dark smoke rising from the surface of the sea.The ship’s captain thought it be a boat on fire and turned his vessel to investigate.What they found was an island in the process of being born: explosive volcanic eruptions originating from below the sea surface, belching black columns of ash. It was formed in a volcanic eruption which began 130 metres (426 ft) below sea level, and reached the surface on 14 November 1963.