mpollock July 4th, 2011
HAFNARFJORDUR, ICELAND: Guest blogger: Lindsey
Today we wrapped up my field work in Undirhlíðar by double-checking our annotated photos and a brief tour of the West wall to confirm our hypothesis that the olivine rich pillow unit continued consistently along this section. We had a quick lunch before heading off to Krysuvik, about 30 minutes south of where we were staying to see some sights we had read about yesterday but had unfortunately missed on our excursion. We first came to Kleifarvatn, a large lake with black sand beaches with a legendary worm-like monster residing in its depths. We spotted it immediately:
We then traveled a little further to Seltun, a large geothermal field seated at the base of a ridge. This area was drilled to supply energy to nearby Hafnarfjordur, but a silica build up in the borehole caused the area to explode in 1999. Another interesting thing to note about this area is the legendary Hverafugl, or “hot spring bird” that supposedly hops into a geothermal vent to hide from humans when they approach. People don’t really believe they exist anymore as a picture has never been taken of one, but older generations believe the birds are apparitions in the steam that represent spirits of the dead. We did not see any Hverafugls, they were clearly hiding.
A geothermal vent at Seltun geothermal field
I decided to stick my hand in to see if it was hot- it was. Can you imagine what the vikings must have thought when they first saw water boiling up out of the ground?
Theory to practice
We then continued a little further to Graenavatn, a strange green lake that is supposedly an old explosion crater. The green color is due to the minerals from the nearby geothermal field as well as algae.
At this point we turned around and came back as we had seen a lot of the peninsula yesterday, and seeing as we haven’t shared the sights on the blog yet, we thought our Estonian colleagues would appreciate seeming some coastline with real cliffs- no offense Nick, your study site is really cute! We started in Hafnarfjordur and ended in Rekjavik (bad map) but saw some incredible things along the way!
The first stop was at Leif the Lucky’s bridge, a spot where you can travel across the bridge from the North American to the Eurasian plate. It was so cold, rainy and windy!
Travis and I halfway between two continents
Stop number 2 was Valahnukur, a coastal area with dramatic black cliffs and powerful waves. We added Icleandic horses to our wildlife list as some were in a field right off the road to the ocean.
Windblown Icelandic horses
The cliffs hosted a large population of seabirds, the most famous of which was the Great Auk, a now extinct breed of flightless bird. The last Great Auk was apparently shot, killed and eaten on a small island 10 km off the coast. Some countries try breeding programs, Iceland has a BBQ.
The Great Auk statue at Valahnukur contemplates its demise
Our last stop of mention yesterday was in Gunnuhver, a geothermal area named after Gunna-a legendary witch/vengeful woman depending on the guide book you read. The story that I like best is that Gunna didn’t like her neighbor, so killed him and his wife. The other villagers instructed her to hold on to a knotted rope, she complied and they then dragged her into the geothermal springs where she perished. We all thought that this story was missing some explanations and was probably literally translated from Icelandic.
After a long afternoon of sightseeing, we headed back home to cook dinner at our cozy guesthouse.
Happy Fourth of July to our Estonian colleagues in return! Today we found BBQ sauce and corn-on-the-cob at the grocery store and had a lovely celebratory dinner!
Travis makes liberal use of the lighter fluid
Perhaps if we had been able to combine the Estonian weather with our Icelandic dinner we would have had a pretty good approximation of an American Fourth of July!
Off to Travis’s study site in Blonduous tomorrow.