Today certainly “rocked”, as we did a massive geology tour of the Myvatn area (see what I did there?). On another note, many scenes from Game of Thrones were filmed in this area, so I can only assume I was walking the same bit of earth as Jon Snow. Finally we are connected.
We started the tour at Godafoss waterfall, which is in the district of north central Iceland. This waterfall was gorgeous and I certainly appreciated how close you can get to the edge. The glacial water has a milky appearance and is a gorgeous shade of blue. Next we headed to Lake Myvatn (aka the midge lake) and looked at the interesting pseudo craters surrounding pond Stakhólstjörn (we didn’t encounter any midges, which was a pleasant surprise). These were formed by steam explosions when burning lava encountered the wet mud surrounding the water. They look like baby volcanos, but alas, they are not. We then headed to Gjotagia, which has small lava caves with heated water, people used to bath in theses thermal springs but I guess they are too hot now. I skipped the caves and headed above to a fissure, which I decided was the plate boundary (Iceland is located on the North America and Euroasia plate boundary, this combined with a hot spot leads to all these volcanic happenings). I posed for some photos, although this is not the exact spot. But, this rift valley is the site of the plate boundary, so I was in the vicinity.
Our next stop was at Námafjall Hverir, which I really enjoyed. These sulfurous mud springs and steam springs are hot and smelly and super neat. The mud bubbles look like some strange chocolate syrup while the steam forms new patterns on the landscape with each passing moment. The most striking feature of the this geothermal area is the colors. There are so many gorgeous colors here, with reds and golds and yellows and greens and browns. We then visited Víti, which has a water-filled crater. Right near Víti was the site of a longterm volcanic eruption in the late 1970s and early 1980s. There was a wall of lava from this eruption that was 10 miles long and 500 feet tall, typically depicted in earth science class videos. There’s no activity now, but the lava field is still pretty fresh, geologically speaking.
Next stop on our tour was Dimmuborgir, lava fields east of Myvatn with volcanic caves and rock formation. This “lava labyrinth” seems small from above, but once you are walking around, it’s massive. I took a right instead of the left turn most Explorer guests took and enjoyed some quiet. Once I was on the hiking path and climbing over some rocks, I realized there was complete quiet. Aside from some human voices in the distance, there were no birds, definitely no cars, no insects, nothing. Our last stop included a hike up the volcano Hverfjall, which is a tephra cone or a tuff ring volcano. There are only three of these volcanos in the world and two are in Iceland. We walked right up the face to the top of the crater. Inside, the landscape looked like the face of the moon. No wonder NASA had astronauts train in Iceland for the moon landing. Also, perfect background for Game of Thrones. (Note: I did not see John Snow on my tour).
After dinner tonight, we hopped in the zodiacs and headed to Grímsey Island, famous for being on the Arctic circle while the rest of Iceland lies below. We mugged for some photos only after checking out all the puffins on the cliffs along the water. So many puffins! Many seemed to escape our approach and flew in unison off the cliff into the water below. But some did stay. On the walk back to the zodiac we saw two dolphins swimming right off the coastline. (This post is for 7/25/16, I was too tired to post last night when I got back aboard the Explorer!).