The Vestmannaeyjar Archipelago, off the south coast of Iceland, was first settled in 874 AD. Heimaey, the only populated island, was home to both a center of the Icelandic fishing industry, and a volcano which had never erupted during nearly a millennium of continuous human settlement. Then, in 1973, all hell broke loose. [more inside]
Surtsey was first observed on November 14, 1963, as a pillar of smoke on the water some ways south of Iceland. The very next day lava and tephra broke the surface of the Atlantic and by May, 1964 the formation had grown to 2.4 km². Over the next three years lava eruptions continued, coating the loose debris in a hard shell and protecting it from erosion. An island born. Naturally, Surtsey has been under close scientific observation since its emergence, and courtesy The Surtsey Research Society you can read published reports on the geology and biological colonization of this new earth.