(Kingston, Ontario, Canada)
Iceland, despite its cold name, is actually the closest I’ve ever been to the scalding centre of the earth. The last part of our day in the Lake Mývatn region brought that into sharp focus, as we walked back and forth across the very place where the North American and the European continental plates collide.
This collision isn’t just theoretical: you can see the gap! At Dimmuborgir (see previous post), we were able to place one foot each in North America and Europe, as the gap was only about two feet wide. Later that day, at Grjótagjá, the gap was larger and it would take some substantial gymnastics to straddle the continents. However, you can also explore the famous caves here just below the surface. Like a couple of other places that I’ve seen recently, Grjótagjá has been used in the TV series “Game of Thrones”.
I can’t promise that you would still be able to straddle the continents at these precise locations. The continental plates are moving apart slowly but surely and the landscape is changing over time. However, tourism is quite important to this part of Iceland and I’m sure that there will still be access to the colliding continents…even if it is a little further down the road.
Speaking of “just down the road”, that’s also the location of the massive volcanic crater at Krafla called “Víti”. In Icelandic, “Víti” means “hell” and it is not difficult to see why that name was applied here. This is the same crater that resulted in the lava flows reaching the village of Reykjahlíð in the early 1700s. While there is a trail that goes around the rim of the crater, we did not have time to walk on it. We were at least able to ascend to the rim and take some photographs. While all this volcanic activity might be kind of scary for building anything, there is in fact a geothermal power station here…you can see some of the (above-ground) infrastructure at the top of this post and in the photo below!
On the way back from Krafla, we stopped at yet another outdoor thermal pool: the Mývatn Nature Baths at Jarðbaðshólar. This is similar to the Blue Lagoon (near Reykjavík), as you can enjoy the outdoor pool at any time of year; it’s also very close to a 3 km deep geothermal borehole.
Finally, after three blog entries’ worth of sights, it was time to return to Akureyri. We loved our time in Akureyri and I’m sure that it will be the subject of a future flashback post on this blog. There won’t be many more flashbacks in the near future, however: it’s almost time to cross the Atlantic again. Be sure to check back here regularly for the whole story; I am looking forward to blogging in real time again!