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Elephant Rock: A basal sea-cliff formed by a volcanic eruption is Iceland’s most dramatic formation

Ian Harvey

A giant elephant rock formed by a volcanic eruption in 1973 attracts tourists on the Heimaey island.

Heimaey Island is also the largest in the Vestmannaeyjar archipelago and the only populated place off the Island coast with a population of over 4,500 citizens.

View of the island Photo Credit

View of the island Photo Credit


Vestmannaeyjar harbor in Heimaey Photo Credit

Vestmannaeyjar harbor in Heimaey Photo Credit

The natural disaster of 1973 had marked the place and made it well-known among tourists over the years.

A volcanic eruption from the mountain Eldfell often referred as Mountain of Fire, emerged massive lava quantity which almost wrecked the city.

While the volcanic ash was drowning in the sea, the lava flow threatened to drown the harbor and its citizens. 5,000 inhabitants were evacuated during the night, mostly by fishing boats.

As the winds changed, approximately half a million cubic meters of ash covered the city, but somehow the place survived the disaster which lasted for days. The locals who sprayed the lava with cold seawater over and over again seemed to be the crucial savior of the harbor.

Only one man died in the eruption, and although much of the town was destroyed, most of the residents’ homes remained untouched.

Eldfell Volcano  Photo Credit

Eldfell Volcano Photo Credit

After the catastrophic eruption, the island’s length expanded, and many natural formations were found.

One of the basal sea-cliffs which became famous for its unusual shape is the giant elephant with its trunk dipping into the sea.

The appearance of the rock seems almost unbelievable, and it has been an attraction for travelers over the years. Many people visit this place to see the ‘thirsty’ elephant on the Heimaey island and take a tour around the durable city which suffered one of Iceland’s greatest disasters.

Elephant Rock, a natural rock formation  Photo Credit

Elephant Rock, a natural rock formation Photo Credit

The Elephant, Heimaey  Photo Credit

The Elephant, Heimaey Photo Credit


Iceland  Photo Credit

Iceland Photo Credit

According to tourists, the best view of the cliff is from the sea or the golf course, situated on the island. Warmly welcomed by the inhabitants, tourists always get the chance to hear the story about locals’ courageous battle with nature that night.

Read another story from us: The ‘Flintstone’ village where many houses were built inside the cliff

Besides the volcanic eruption which everyone wants to hear about when visiting the island, the giant elephant rock remains to be city’s most visited attraction and one of Iceland’s most dramatic natural formation.