Cracks and fissures....

Trip Start Aug 30, 2007
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Trip End Sep 30, 2007


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Flag of Iceland  ,
Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Out of the highlands and into the fissure...the day seemed to be about cracks... and in fact today we're traveling on the joint between the two tectonic plates that runs through the center of Iceland...where the country is growing at 2 cm per year...so obviously this is a very busy place...geologically that is...
 
First stop...Viti - which means "Hell"  in Icelandic...it's one of the craters venting the Krafla volcano field - its energy fuels Kroflustod Power Station, one of the largest geothermal power plants in Iceland.  They started to build the plant  in 1973 but were thwarted by something like 9 eruptions in 1975, one of which sent the drilling eqpt flying to about 3 km. away!!  The eruptions  also deflated the amount of power the plant would be able to generate but it opened up anyway in 1978.  Krafla is expected to erupt again within the next couple of years.   So right now there's all sorts of spewing of the Earth's insides going on around here...we drive up to Viti and there's this pristine lake in the crater  masking the ferocity of the volcano...downstream from the power plant is this stream that's hot and loaded with sulfur compounds, it glows eerily neon-like even at midday.  I wouldn't put my hand in this stream for anything...
 
One thing that amazes me around here is the complete access you have to everything...whether it's the crater that could erupt momentarily or the nasty looking river, or even the power plant...you can take a tour or just walk through at any time...and these supply the nation with its energy...now in the US you can't even walk a bunch of students through the garbage incineration plant in Syracuse anymore...
 
I'm most impressed with the bubbling of the mudholes that cover the surface of the Earth in the area...you can walk within inches of these gaping holes in the muddy flats that are boiling and bubbling and spewing out sulfur and gases and mud.  I could watch these things for the rest of the afternoon but, after cleaning the sticky 2 inches of mud off of my boots, we set off for another opening that Stina had told us about...the place where the Earth just cracks in two...and it looks like a big strip of asphalt that suffered some serious frost heaving...big big upheaval with a crack that exposes the bowels of the Earth ...start exploring the fissures, climbing down into the spaces into these natural hot tub pools at the bottom...it's all intriguing until I crack my head into one of rocks on the way out...given that my hard head is still far softer than the rock, it hurts and takes me a while to regain my composure... but I do and continue to explore, keeping my head above danger...
 
There are so many volcanic formations to explore..this area is a playground of the Earth's interior processes...we hike through Dimmuborgir lava field with it's unique formations...like a sculptor took a bunch of clay and dripped it in piles, each taking on it's own personality and hardening.  We explore the area around beautiful Myvatn, which is a lake surrounded by craters and birds...and that evening we drive to Akyreyri, where we stay with a couchsurfing host, Bjarni Magnusson who welcomes us in his comfortable home for the next three nights...
 
 
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