Iceland, the frozen land of Vikings.
Iceland really seems to be another planet; it is formed by successive volcanic eruptions over 20 million years. Here the lava shows that it is itself the greatest artist. The island is a curious case from a geological point of view, it is split between the European and North American tectonic plates, making the country belong geographically to both continents. The weather is severe, the strong winds help the erosion to do its work. In our way we found many active volcanos, geysers, colored lakes, magic rocks defying gravity, sands as black as night with huge grains, and inhospitable landscapes with magnificent rocks that rise from the Earth where giants seem to play soccer.
We followed through Þjóðvegur or “Hringvegur”, a ring road that circulates the entire island. We passed by cities with 10, 20 houses and the biggest of them, Vík (with 500 habitants), giving the impression that time has not passed, or at least barely passed since the Vikings established here in the 9th century. Many of these houses stay very close to huge rock walls, like great Tsunamis ready to swallow them.Towards the end of the road, still dozens of kilometers away, all of these things give way to the great glacier of Vatnajökull, our final destination.
Vatnajökull is one of the biggest ice masses on Earth. It is in the southeast of the island, inside the Skaftafell National Park, covering more than 8% of the country. At 8,100Km², it is the second biggest ice cap in Europe in area and the biggest in volume. The ice thickness can reach 1000 meters. Despite the impressive size, however, the giant Vatnajökull has been decreasing for some years due to climate changes and recent volcanic activities. These thaws create bluish water channels that flows for kilometers, following these channels we find the most important witness of this worrying event.
Close to the great glacier foothills, in a place known as Breiðamerkurjökull Head, we can find Jökulsárlón that literally means “the glacier’s lake”. It is formed by the thaw of the enormous glacial mass. Constant measurements show that the lake has grown 4 times since the 70’s, thanks to global warming that has boosted the ice displacement and melting. At 248m deep and 18Km² in size, it became the largest and deepest lake in Iceland.
The lake is made by icebergs displaced from the great Vatnajökull making a macabre spectacle, a picturesque parade of ice pieces, some over hundreds of years old, that follow a ghostly procession with luminous blue icebergs, increasingly faster, increasingly cruel.
A macabre spectacle that seems far from over…
Learn more by watching the documentary: