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§ XXXVI. A new island arising h conclusion I have to from the sea. ^ thafc for & whole month
previous to the volcanic eruption in the district of West Skaptefield, in 1783, a great fire was seen arising from the sea off the south-west coast of Iceland, and this was rendered visible to mariners, at the distance of six or eight Danish miles, by the vast body of smoke that proceeded from it. The sea around for twenty or thirty Danish miles was filled with pumice-stones to such a degree that they were no small obstruction to the progress of shipping. Of these pumicestones, which were driven upon the southern coast in great quantity and in different places, I myself have found several here and there at Akranes, in the district of Borgefiord, and principally at Inderholme. But this is not all; for, by the force of the subterraneous fire, a new island has arisen from the sea, which was seen throwing out a vast quantity of fire by some mariners on their passing this coast early in the month of May, 1783. By the nearest estimate they could make, this island lay in about 630 20" of north latitude, and in about 354° 20" of longitude, at the distance of seven or eight Danish miles south-west by the true compass from the outermost of the Fugle-skiers off Reikanes. Masters of vessels, who have sailed very close to this island, do not agree in their reports concerning its extent, some of them having calculated it at one mile in circumference, whereas others have described it as being only one-third of a mile or very little more. The island * is stated to consist of high rocks, in the rifts of which in two or three different places was burning a strong fire, which at intervals, as it burst forth, threw up a considerable quantity of pumice-stones.
At about one and one-third Danish miles by the compass from this place a sunken rock "\" was also discovered, over which the
* By later accounts we learn that this island was in the course of a twelvemonth reduced to a sunken rock, extremely dangerous to navigators. It is mentioned at p. 8 of this Journal. H.
f As I have not in any other work met with information respecting this sunken rock, it seems to me not sea broke very heavily. By soundings taken when near the island it was ascertained that, at the depth of forty-two fathoms, the ground consisted of a kind of calcined stonedust, which shone like pit-coal. At one place they had more than one hundred fathom of water, when only at the distance of half-a-mile E. N. E. from the island.
This island, to which His Royal Majesty has been graciously pleased to bestow the name of Nyoe (New Island) has not been seen this year by mariners: and though the ships in which Mr. Levetzen, Mr. Bulow, and myself went to the country and returned to Copenhagen, had express orders to search for it, we were still unable to discover it; notwithstanding that during our outward bound passage we continued cruising backwards and forwards for a long time in the latitude where we might expect to fall in with it. So that, if I may be permitted to draw any conclusion from this circumstance, it would be this: that Nyoe has sunk
unlikely that it is only the remains of the island just before described, which, as will hereafter be mentioned, is now scarcely to be seen at high water. H.
into the sea in the same manner as it rose a year ago."
While engaged in preparing this part of my work for the press, Sir Joseph Banks has been kind enough to send me a valuable Danish publication on the coasts and harbors of Iceland. It was printed at Copenhagen, 1788, and is entitled Beskrivelse over den Islandske Kyst og alle Havne fra Fugleskiærene og til Stikkelsholm i Bredebugten med Forklaring over deres Indseiling, ved P. de Lowenorn. From this I shall extract not only that part which concerns the New Island, mentioned by Mr. Stephensen in the beginning of the last section of his pamphlet, but also that which relates to the whole of the Fugle-Skiærene, as I consider the account of them too interesting, and the nautical information relative to them too important, to allow either of these to be omitted.
"From Cape Reykenes five single rocks, rising above the water, stretch out to the s. w. by w., by the true compass, and are called Fugle-Skiaerene (or the Bird-rocks). The one which is nearest the land, and lies close under Reykanes, is called Carls-klippe: it is very dark, and has much the appearance of a church with pointed steeples. The distance between this and the second rock, called Eld-Ey * (or the Flour-bag), is one and a half Danish miles. Between these islands is the best channel and that which is most generally used. One may likewise pass between the other Fugle-Skiaers, if there is a tolerably fresh breeze; but the sea breaks very heavily, especially in spring tides, and may cause broken seas and put the vessel to great danger.
* Eld-Ey, or lid Oe. The Icelanders call these rocks by the general appellation of El-Eyranne, or Ild-oerne (Fire islands), probably thereby intending to intimate that they have formerly been volcanoes, and have been produced by revolutions similar to those that have happened in the East Indies, in the Archipelago, at Sicily, and many other places, and very lately in Iceland 1783, with the Blinde Fugle-Skim, as it is called; which, although it afterwards sank again and therefore justly bears the name of the Blinde Skicer (that is, sunken rock), may probably by some future convulsion again raise itself high above the water. More will presently be said concerning this Blinde FugleSkicer.