One important natural resource both in Hungary and Iceland is geothermal energy.
Iceland is probably the most famous in the world for volcanic activity. Relative to the age of the earth Iceland is very young or just about 16 million years old. The island is placed on the boundaries of two tectonic plates, the American plate and the Eurasian plate. Those two plates are drifting away from each other, which results in the formation of new oceanic crust. Very often small earthquakes follow the movement of the plates. In addition there is a hot spot under the biggest glacier Vatnajökull and this hot spot increases volcanic activity in Iceland.
Ever since the settlement of Iceland the population has used geothermal energy. In the beginning the hot water was just used to have a bath or to heat the houses. During the centuries the people found new ways to use the geothermal energy. Today geothermal energy is harnessed in many ways in Iceland, you can enjoy taking a bath in the warm pools of water in nature. Steam is also used to produce electricity for large scale industry in the country.
The geological conditions of Hungary are different from the geological setup of Iceland, but there are some interesting similarities, too.
The first important similarity is that the earth’s crust below the Hungary and the Carpathian Basin is also thinner than the world average, therefore the geothermal gradient – similarly to Iceland – is above the world average.
Another interesting feature is a tectonic line below Hungary, which marks an ancient plate boundary between two small plates, one which had broken off the African, and another which had broken off the Eurasian plate. So, in a way, we are also located on a plate margin. But please do not start looking for active volcanoes on the map of Hungary, this is not an active mid-ocean ridge. Still, the two features above explain why Hungary is rich in thermal waters.
People began to build thermal baths centuries ago. Even the Turks built a bath in Budapest during the Ottoman Empire’s occupation. Today there are more than 200 thermal spas – most of them are medicinal spas – in the country. Hot water is also used for heating greenhouses, drying crops, and heating buildings. Hopefully we will see more and more examples of the wise utilization of this great natural treasure.