Saturday, June 15, 2013

What sprouts up, flows down in Iceland

.June 15, 2013. Iceland. We fly from Akureyri, Iceland to Reykjavik in the morning. Our coach meets us at the airport. We drive to Þingvellir  National Park, Geysir thermal area and Gullfoss waterfall.

Þingvellir National Park

This park was founded in 1930 to protect the remains of Althing, the Icelandic parliament, and was later expanded to protect natural phenomena in the surrounding area. Þingvellir National Park was the first national park in Iceland and is also one of the most popular tourist destinations in Iceland.  It is UNESCO World Heritage site and has great historical, cultural, and geological importance to the Icelandic people. 

Rift Valley

Þingvellir and the Great Rift Valley of Eastern Africa are the only sites on earth where the effects of two major tectonic plates drifting apart can be observed. At this site, the North American plate is moving northeast while the Eurasian plate is moving southwest. The rift valley opens as the plates move apart. 

Fault blocks run along the length of the valley. The valley floor is sinking as the walls are pulled apart by tectonic plate motions, at about 1 mm per year. The valley walls are moving apart at a rate of about 7 mm per year, and have spread about 70 m. in the past 9000 years.
An overview of the Þingvellir rift valley. Source of illustration: Information leaflet, Þingvellir Þjóðgarður (

Faults can be seen on both sides of the valley. The lava that covers the valley came from the snow-covered mountain in the center.
An overview of the Þingvellir rift valley. Source of illustration: Information leaflet, Þingvellir Þjóðgarður (

Our view of the rift valley on Saturday, June 15, 2013. We descended and walked along the fault line, through the fault blocks.


The Icelandic Parliament or The Alþingi

The Althing, an open-air assembly representing the whole of Iceland, was established in 930 and continued to meet until 1798. 
Over two weeks a year, the assembly set laws - seen as a covenant between free men - and settled disputes. 
The Althing has deep historical and symbolic associations for the people of Iceland. Fragments of around 50 booths (summer houses) built from turf and stone remain.

Depiction of The Althing

The Icelandic flag is shown on the mound used by the lawmakers

The water in the valley is crystal clear. 

Geysir Thermal Area

A graphic of world geysers in the thermal area. Steamboat and Old Faithful are in Yellowstone National Paark. Geysir and Strokkur are in this thermal area.

Strokker Geyser

This is Strokker geyser. It explodes in short bursts about every 2-5 minutes.

Gullfoss Waterfall

Gullfoss (English: Golden Falls) is a waterfall located in the canyon of the Hvítá river in southwest Iceland. The river plunges in two stages into a 105 ft. deep crevice which extends perpendicular to the flow of the river. 
Gullfoss is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country. Wikipedia
Doesn't look real, does it!

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