Shortly after breakfast, we left the ship in pursuit of geologic adventures in the north central region of Iceland. The island’s dynamic geology is primarily due to the fact that it straddles the divergent continental plate boundary that separates the North American plate from the European plate. The visible rock that we observed a few days ago in the Westfjord region of Iceland is some of the oldest rock on the island at about 50 million years old, while the exposed rock seen on today’s outing is some of the most recently formed in the world.
Our first stop was one of Iceland’s most iconic waterfalls, Godafoss. The thundering falls are a modest 40 feet tall but a width of nearly 100 feet makes for an incredibly dramatic landscape. One of the highlights of the day was Lake Myvatn, a large, shallow lake with numerous volcanic tuff cones dotting the area. While volcanic activity has been taking place here for millions of years, an eruption from approximately 2,800 years ago is primarily responsible for the formations that we observed throughout the morning. In addition to being a geologic wonderland, Myvatn is also biologically rich. The abundance of tiny midge flies provide food for many birds, including whooper swans, divers (loons), and several species of interesting ducks.
Other geologic features that we were able to explore in the Dimmuborgir area included lava tubes and basaltic lava pillars resulting from cold water mixing with emerging lava. Today’s adventure was also our best opportunity to observe some of Iceland’s renowned geothermal features. While walking through the surreal landscape of a geyser basin, we were immersed in the intense sights and smells of gurgling mudpots and roaring steam vents.
In the afternoon, we arrived in the charming small town of Husavik, where guests were able to stroll along, visiting shops and cafes or enjoying the natural thermal waters of a local spa. After dinner, we celebrated crossing the Arctic Circle on the island of Grimsey, the most northern community in Iceland. Several intrepid guests wrapped up the day by hiking across Grimsey to reach a massive spherical rock intentionally placed precisely on the Arctic Circle. One of our fullest days so far also proved to be one of the most enlightening!