Saturday, 15 October 2011

Vatnajökull glacier and Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon

Vatnajökull is the largest glacier in Iceland. It is located in the south-east of the island, covering more than 8% of the country. Vatnajökull is the largest ice cap in Europe. The average thickness of the ice is 400m, with a maximum thickness of 1km. Under this ice cap, as under many of the glaciers of Iceland, there are several volcanoes.

An outlet glacier of Vatnajökull is Breiðamerkurjökull which emerges as a tongue of the Vatnajökull and it ends in a small lagoon, known as Jökulsárlón. Breiðamerkurjökull has gradually been breaking down producing floating icebergs of varying size. As the icebergs break away, they drift slowly into the lagoon and eventually join the ocean. They are stated to float in the 600m deep lagoon for 5 years. As the Breiðamerkurjökull's melting rates increased, the size of the lagoon increased as well, from 8km² in 1975 to 18km² today. Near Jökulsárlón, there is a second lagoon called Brejðrlan, which is smaller in size than Jökulsárlón.

Jökulsárlón lagoon: 

 Icebergs by the sea:

 Brejðrlan lagoon:

A tongue of Vatnajökull:

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Aurora Borealis (Northern lights)

An aurora, according to Wikipedia, is a natural light display in the sky particularly in the high latitude (Arctic and Antarctic) regions, caused by the collision of energetic charged particles with atoms in the high altitude atmosphere (thermosphere). The charged particles originate in the magnetosphere and solar wind and are directed by the Earth's magnetic field into the atmosphere.

In northern latitudes, the effect is known as the aurora borealis (or the northern lights), named after the Roman goddess of dawn, Aurora, and the Greek name for the north wind, Boreas, by Pierre Gassendi in 1621. Auroras seen near the magnetic pole may be high overhead, but from farther away, they illuminate the northern horizon as a greenish glow or sometimes a faint red, as if the Sun were rising from an unusual direction. Discrete aurorae often display magnetic field lines or curtain-like structures, and can change within seconds or glow unchanging for hours, most often in fluorescent green. The aurora borealis most often occurs near the equinoxes. 

Here are some of my photos of this phenomenon in Iceland:

Monday, 10 October 2011


The village of Vík (or Vík í Mýrdal in full) is the southernmost village in Iceland, located on the main ring road and about 180 km from Reykjavík. Despite its small size (only 300 inhabitants) is the largest settlement in the area. Vik is well known for its impressive black beach, the massive cliffs and the stormy weather. It is one of the wettest places in Iceland.

Vík lies directly beneath the Mýrdalsjökull glacier, which itself is on top of the Katla volcano. It is speculated that a Katla eruption will occur soon. This eruption could melt enough ice to trigger an enormous flash flood, potentially large enough to obliterate the entire town. The town's church, located high on a hill, is believed to be the only building that would survive such a flood. Thus, the people of Vík practice periodic drills and are trained to rush to the church at the first sign of an eruption.

 The town's church:

 The black beach with and without fog...

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Landmannalaugar roads closed...

Luckily, I photographed this area before the roads close for winter. They will open again May or June next year! 


Landmannalaugar is a region near the volcano Hekla in southern section of Iceland's highlands. The area displays a number of interesting geological elements, like the multicoloured rhyolite mountains, expansive lava fields and hot springs. 

The Landmannalaugar area is a popular hiking destination from June to late September, after that the road closes. Landmannalaugar is the usual starting point for a four day long hiking trail which ends in Þórsmörk, but more days can be added, trekking to Skógar nearly at the coast between the two glaciers Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull. Eyjafjallajökull is well known from the 2010 eruptions with caused enormous disruption to air travel across western and northern Europe. 

Three routes lead to Landmannalaugar and they are accessible only by AWD cars as the road could be rough or require crossing unbridged rivers! I was lucky enough to photograph the area in September just before the roads close for winter.


The Super Jeep is a true Icelandic-style off-roader, modified with huge tires and body lift for hardcore off-road driving.

Friday, 7 October 2011


Heimaey at a size of 13km² is the largest island in the Vestmannaeyjar archipelago, and the largest Icelandic island outside the main one. Heimaey lies approximately 50km off the south coast of Iceland and it is the only inhabited island of the Vestmannaeyjar islands.

Heimaey's little town and harbour lies next to two ominous volcanoes Eldfell and Helgafell. Eldfell has only been around since 1973, as it was created during a huge five-month eruption that buried parts of the town under 30 million tonnes of lava. Today an excavation project has started and this area often refer to as ''The Pompeii of the north''.
 Pompeii of the north:

In 1963 a nearby volcanic eruption which began 130 metres below sea level formed the island of Surtsey. This eruption lasted until 1967 when Surtsey reached its maximum size of 2.7km². Since then, wind and wave erosion have caused the island to steadily diminish in size. The same eruption also created a few other small islands but most of these eroded away fairly quickly.

Heimaey town:
 Heimaey harbour:


The Snæfellsnes is a 100km-long peninsula in western Iceland. The highest mountain on the peninsula is Snæfellsjökull volcano which has a glacier at its peak at 1446m. Snæfellsnes has been named Iceland in Miniature, as it includes lush fjords, volcanic peaks, dramatic sea cliffs, sweeping golden beaches, a glistening icecap and Iceland’s newest national park!
The volcano can be seen on clear days from Reykjavík, a distance of about 120km away. The mountain is also known as the setting of the novel Journey to the Center of the Earth by the French author Jules Verne.

Snæfellsjökull volcano and icecap:

 Snæfellsnes as seen from Reykjavík!