Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Iceland: Natural Landmarks

In June 2019 we spent several days in Iceland and saw some beautiful natural landmarks. Rather than spend much time on any one, I'm going to briefly describe each one, provide a photo or two, and then move on. 

Thingvallavatn Lake is the largest natural lake in Iceland and the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates meet beneath it. 
This photo is from the southern edge, looking north.
This photo is from near the same place, but looking more west.
Thingvellir National Park is near the far north end of Thingvallavatn Lake. Here the boundary between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates is clearly visible. 
A fissure, or gap in the plates, I'm not sure which, in the foreground and the lake in the background. 
A fissure line evidenced by tall bands of rock. 
A small stream in the area.
Gullfoss (golden waterfall) is northeast of Thingvallavatn Lake on the Hvita River. It has two stages: the first drop of 36 feet over a three-step staircase, then the second drop of 69 feet into a crevice that is 105 feet deep. The crevice is 66 feet wide and goes for 1.6 miles. It carries 4,900 cubit feet of water, per second, in the summer. 
Gullfoss Waterfall
The first drop.
The second drop into the crevice. 
Faxifoss (horse mane waterfall) was much smaller, southwest of Gullfoss, but still beautiful. It had a 23 foot drop and was about 260 feet wide. It also had salmon steps along the left side of it. 
Flaxifoss with the salmon steps to the left side.
People to the bottom left give perspective.
About three-quarters of the way from Reykjavik to Vik, the southernmost point of Iceland, we encountered Seljalandsfoss, a 197 foot tall waterfall, that we were able to walk behind.
A front view of Seljalandsfoss.
From behind.
From an overlook to the side.
Further along the road to Vik, we encountered Skogafoss (Forest Falls), which also has a 197 foot drop but is much wider and has much more volume than Seljalandsfoss. We couldn't get too close to Skogafoss without really getting wet because of the spray.

This was about as close as I could get without completely drenching myself and camera. 
Getting closer to Vik, we turned off to hike to Solheimajokull Glacier, an outlet glacier of the Myrdalsjokull Icecap, Iceland's fourth largest icecap. It was about a 20 minute walk from the parking area, evidence of the melting glacier which has receded dramatically. 
From a distance we could see the icecap behind the glacier.
As we got closer, the view of the icecap faded and we saw a large lagoon full of glacier melt water. 
People to the far right give perspective to the size of the glacier front. 
A man standing on some glacial silt in front of the front wall. 

Near Vik, the southernmost point in Iceland, we went to Reynisfjara, a black sand beach, and saw Reynisdrangar, 220 foot tall basalt towers in the distance. 

We drove a little bit and came to Halsanefshellir, a triangular peak with a base of basalt which reminded me of Hallgrimskirkja in Reykjavik, or I guess really, Hallgrimskirkja appeared modeled after this site. 
We drove a little more to a plateau which holds the Dyrholaey Lighthouse. From there we could see a massive stone arch extending out from the plateau and got a beautiful view of black Reynisfjara Beach. 

1 comment:

  1. Nice summary. The best thing about Iceland (other than its food) is its waterfalls.