This is another post from our trip to Iceland. We took another day trip out of Vic, but this one was to the Vatna Glacier. Using the Ring Road we traveled around the coastal side of the glacier which is the largest glacier in Europe by volume.
It sits in the Vatnajokull National Park, the largest national park in Europe. Within the glacier is Iceland’s highest mountains.
Our first stop was a visitors’ center to watch a very good film about the glacier. Its mass takes up about 3,204 square miles, and it is more than a half a mile thick at its thickest point.
Located immediately below the arctic circle, Iceland has an alpine environment. It also has a very short growing season. This makes for a beautiful landscape though.
It is a different type of scenic beauty.
Iceland’s soil is of volcanic origin and is very loose. Erosion is a whole other problem here.
Its highland landscape is wide, open, with a vast horizon.
We stopped in several places to view
fingers of the glacier up close.
We are traveling along the Ring Road, and at one point our tour guide showed us where a glacier outburst occurred.
Caused by a volcano inside the glacier, the flood water burst from under the ice in this area with immense violence. Large blocks of ice broke off the glacier and were carried down across the sand flats here.
There are two processes that happen here deep in the earth. First the Mid-Atlantic Ridge runs through here. Second, this is a hotspot. Hotspots are located throughout our world. For example Yellowstone is considered a hotspot.
The most intense Icelandic volcanoes are located beneath this glacier. There are seven volcanoes located underneath the Vatna’s icecap, and most of them are active.
This is what this outburst did to the Ridge Road bridges here. It happened in September 1996 when powerful earthquake tremors were followed by a volcanic eruption which lasted until 13 October.
However the floodwaters didn’t appear until November 5 when the floodwaters washed away the road crossing the sand flats here. One 376 meter bridge was completely washed away. Several others were badly damaged.
The outburst resulted in five channels of water and one channel was briefly the second largest river in the world. The five channels of floodwaters washed away a quarter mile long bridge, most of another bridge over a half mile long, over 19 miles of roadway and twenty-three power-line towers.
They used some of the damaged bridge to build a Memorial. No human lives were lost.
All is peaceful now in the same location.
We passed dozens upon dozens of waterfalls, all made by the glacier. One of my favorites was called the Two Sisters Falls.
Later, we traveled to the Jokulsarlon, which literally means ‘glacial river lagoon’.
It was amazingly scenic
with its bright blue icebergs
This is either a total waste of tax dollars or someone must have tried it.
The river reaches down to the sea passing under the Ring Road and its impressive bridge.
On the other side of the bridge it too has a black beach.
We watched the icebergs move on into the sea.
People added their own creative talents to the topography.
On the way back we stopped at ￼Hofskirkja in the village of Hof. The little parish church built in the 1880s is still in use and was the last turf church built in the old style.
A cemetery surrounded it.
We decided to take a group shot here.
After we got back to our hotel and had dinner we went out once again to see the Northern Lights traveling westward to total darkness near the sea. We used an app to see if they were forecast for the evening. There was a slight chance of seeing the aurora due to a possible predicted break in the cloudiness, but alas no dancing northern lights.
We did have a nice dinner though.