Skeidararsandur - sandwich plain and green lava fields

Green lava fields, Iceland


Iceland's charming landscapes are usually created in dramatic circumstances. Natural antagonisms meet here, and their encounter always ends abruptly.
Crossing the vast plain Skeidararsandur I was wondering if the 50 km long and 30 km wide, painfully flat and seemingly boring area can also boast a dramatic history? The answer came faster than I expected.

Location of the Skeidararsandur plain on the Iceland map

Exactly as I was running my reflections in my head, my attention was caught by huge steel elements protruding from the ground. Thick and healthy pieces of steel were elements of some solid supporting structure, but the shape definitely differed from the constructor's assumptions. For they looked as if they had been crushed by some monstrous force. A strength for which they were not made of steel, but rather plasticine. I stopped. I approached them and tried for a long time to imagine a cataclysm that could do something like this.

Metal structures bent as if they were made of plasticine

Ice tsunami

Everything started September 30, 1996 and was happening out of human sight.
Deep under the 900 m thick ice crust of the glacier Vatnajökull the volcano erupted. On the surface of the earth, however, nothing happened except a symbolic earthquake, which clearly showed that something was happening inside.

An ice eruption has begun. Molten, liquid matter directly from the inside of the earth hit the permafrost from the bottom of the glacier. Live fire and ice started their war. The volcanic eruption lasted 14 days. The gigantic, heavy ice cap withstood the volcano's pressure. Under a thick layer of ice, a hot lake had formed - a reservoir of pressurized water that had to vent its energy.
Scientists expected that "jokulhlaup", That is in free translation"glacial splash”Will occur immediately after the eruption. The silence, however, lasted much longer. It was only after a few weeks, on November 4, 1996, that the bottom edge of the glacier broke and the "splash" took the form of a destructive tsunami wave.
The wave was five meters high and, in addition to water, carried with it huge blocks of ice and rock material from a volcanic eruption. It swept almost the full width of the Skeidararsandur plain, sweeping away everything in its path.
Huge billets of ice, carried by the devastating tsunami flowing from beneath the glacier, crashed into the bridge that stood here, from which, in the end, a few pathetic-looking fragments remained.

Fragments of the twisted structure of the bridge and the glacier tongue in the background

To better illustrate the phenomenon, I will only add that the Skeidara River flowing through the valley usually carries about 100 m3 of water per second. During the "glacial splash" the flow increased to 60 000 m3 water per second. In total, during the process lasting several days, the glacier spat out about 3 trillion (!!!) liters of water.

Destroyed bridge - parking lot, GPS coordinates:
63°59’05.0″N 16°57’35.6″W
63.984726, -16.959895 - click and route

Sandra wilderness

The plain of Skeidararsandur is a typical wilderness. There are no towns or even small towns in its area. Only single houses function here, which should be considered a great courage. At this point, volcanic eruptions under the glacier occur quite regularly (recently more or less every 4-5 years) and it can be said that undoubtedly a similar cataclysm will happen again sooner or later. We just don't know when it will happen.
Currently, the eruptions, although relatively regular, are much smaller and do not cause any natural disasters. The future, however, is unknown and nature is untamed.

The plain of Skeidararsandur with the tongues of the Vatnajökull glacier in the background. Somewhere under that ice cap, a volcano erupted.

Green lava

As you traverse the plain, you will be mostly surrounded by dark, almost black volcanic ground: a mixture of stones, boulders and ash. In the end, however, you will find an unusual place, where the frozen lava is covered with almost fluorescent, soft green. These are mosses that have found favorable conditions for themselves in a certain area of ​​the plain. They tightly covered the lava with a really thick and wonderfully soft sheepskin, giving it a lush green color. This area is described on maps as the "Green Lava Walk". Walking among the mosses is limited to paths marked with low barriers, because some of the visitors liked to lie down on a cushion made of a layer of moss ... and I admit, it's really hard to resist this temptation.

Walk on green lava - parking lot, GPS coordinates:
63°44’47.9″N 18°09’38.6″W
63.746637, -18.160733 - click and route

The green lava area is only allowed to be walked on the designated paths
The moss sheepskin is thick and soft
Green lava field, Iceland

Hotels near the plains and green lava

At the beginning of link to the list of hotels near the plain and green lava - [click]. After clicking on the link, you will be taken to the list of hotels sorted by distance from the place of interest. So you will find exactly what we are interested in, immediately filtering the offers of hotels further away.
Below I present a few selected, in my opinion interesting offers. Perhaps you will like them. They can also be a good starting point for further research.

Hotel Laki - [click]

Adventure Hotel Geirland - [click]

Hörgsland Cottages - [click]

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One comment on “Skeidararsandur - sandwich plain and green lava fields"

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    Iceland has always reminded me of nature only touched by a human hand and the more I read about this place, the more I am convinced that it is so. Beautiful views, beautiful waterfalls, clean air - the only designer is nature, and people can only learn from it: d


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