Saturday, September 29, 2012

Blowing Off A Little Steam in Iceland

Geothermal Springs and Volcanoes!!!!!

Because Iceland is located on the spot where two of the earth's plates meet (the mid-atlantic ridge), the country of Iceland is a place where the Earth is constantly letting off steam.  Ever since being settled, the people of Iceland have enjoyed the naturally heated waters caused by cracks in the earths crust that heat it with the hot molten lava under the surface.  In the 18th century they started to come up with ways to harness this energy into heating their homes and greenhouses.  Now much of Iceland's energy is produced by this natural power!  Not only is this clean energy free, it can be a tourist attraction too!!
The English word "geyser" comes from the real attraction in Iceland, named Geysir, which has been spouting hot water high up into the air for over 10,000 years.  Many smaller geysers can be found all over Iceland, as well as naturally heated mineral pools with crystal clear waters heated to perfection by mother earth!  People come to Iceland from all over to soak in the different pools, many are just for fun but  many are said to have medicinal purposes.                                                                                  
Doesn't that look heavenly?!?
But the most impressive form of geothermal energy is the
VOLCANO!!!!  In the last 200 years more than 30 volcanoes have erupted in Iceland.  The most recent one was at Grimsvotn in May 2011, but the one I bet you remember was 2010.  It had a name I'm sure you remember - Eyjafjallajokull.  Say that 3 times fast.  Ha, say that once!!  It's pronounced AY-uh-full-ay-ho-kul and it was known worldwide because it's ash plume made it impossible for planes to fly in Northern Europe for several weeks.  However, in Iceland it was only considered a minor volcano! 

See? No big deal.(yeah right)
So we set out to make our own Eyjafjallajokull.  My original plan was the old vinegar and baking soda experiment but it never really fizzed the way I wanted so I won't bore you with videos of rather failed volcanoes.  After wasting 1/2 a bottle of vinegar, we decided to go a different route - the Mentos Volcano!!!!!
Science Project:  Mentos Volcano (Mt. Mentos?)
For the project you will need:
  •  bottle of diet coke or coke zero (works the best and not sticky)
  • pack of mentos (any flavor)
  • paper bag to make it (kinda) look like a volcano
Sorry, I don't have a picture of the ingredients like I normally do.
1.  Find an area that you don't mind having diet coke spurted all over.  You know, a neighbor's back yard or the park.  Just kidding, we used our own backyard - I thought the gnomes could be the Icelanders fleeing the lava :)
2. Open the diet coke and place on ground.
3. Arrange the paper bag over the bottle with a small hole in the top so the "lava" can flow out.  Crumble up the bag a little so it looks like a mountain.
4.  Drop about 3 mentos all at the same time into the diet coke and STAND BACK as it erupts :)

Cool huh? That was using a 16oz. bottle of diet coke and 3 mentos but more = bigger.  Want to know the science behind it?  According to //, the invisible gas, carbon dioxide, that makes all soda carbonated, is held suspended by the water molecules in the soda.  When the gelatin and gum arabic on the coating of the candy and the physical action of them being dropped into the soda breaks up these molecules the gas is released and WHOOSH!!! comes rushing out of the bottle, pushing the liquid up and out in an awesome eruption!  Science is cool. 

Iceland was cool too...where to next?!?

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