|Geysir is the geyser from
which the English word is derived. It is one of only a few Icelandic words
that are used in English. Geysir was the most famous geyser in Iceland
and a major tourist attraction. Its popularity, however, caused its downfall.
Too many people threw too many things down the hole to see if the geyser
would eject them. Eventually the vent became plugged and the geyser ceased
its eruptive activity. An earthquake in 2000 loosened things up and Geysir
started to erupt again. Right next to Geysir is Strokkur, shown here. Strokkur
erupts vigorously for a few seconds and then stops to recharge. It has
a periodicity of about three minutes. Such frequent eruptions mean that
few people dare get close enough to throw anything into this geyser.
Iceland abounds with active geothermal areas. Reykjavík is heated by an intricate system of geothermal water piped through the city. In fact, Reykjavík means "smokey bay". Photo by Ruud Kastelein
|Gullfoss means "golden falls" in Icelandic. The falls cascade into the rift on the western side of the island. The walls are composed of numerous, thin, basaltic, lava flows and occasional lake sediments, some of which exhibit varved clays.|
|The pseudocrater field along the south shore of Mývatn, in northeastern Iceland, is a volcanological oddity. In the late 1200's a fluid, basaltic lava flowed over a boggy marshland along the lakeshore. The water trapped beneath the lava became superheated and eventually caused a phreatic (steam) explosion, causing the pseudocrater formation. For this reason, they are referred to as "rootless" volcanoes. There are more than 20 of these craters in this area that can be explored by a trail that leads through them. Note the person on the crater rim for scale.|
|Several more pseudocraters are seen in this photo of Mývatn. In Icelandic, Mývatn means "midge's lake". Midges are pesky little flies that thrive in the craters. Their waste and corpses fertilize the bottoms of the craters making them one of the few good places for agriculture at this latitude (less than 1º south of the Arctic Circle). Photo by Ruud Kastelein|
|Icelandic ponies are frequently seen in the Mývatn area. There are no mammals native to Iceland but polar bears used to live here. Every now and then a bear will be rafted in on an iceberg from Greenland but since Viking times they have been hunted down immediately so that they cannot pose a threat to the numerous sheep on the island.|