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The story behind Iceland's volcanic elephant



Iceland is a land of volcanoes. Nowhere is this more evident than on the Vestmannaeyjar (Westman Islands), an archipelago off the southern coast of Iceland. Here, centuries of volcanic eruptions formed sea cliffs that appear almost fairy-tale-like. Among these eye-catching formations, one stands out: A portion of the volcano-formed coast on Heimaey (which means "Home Island") looks almost exactly like the head of a large elephant sticking its trunk in the water.


The rock is elephantine enough that some people think that it must have been shaped with human intervention. That is not the case, however. The elephant's realistic appearance is, at least partially, due to the fact that the cliff consists of basalt rock. The rock gives the figure "skin" that looks wrinkled and grayish, just like a real elephant.

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