The famous geothermal field of Hverir, next to the mountain of Námafjall, is one of Iceland’s most infernal and fascinating sights. Walkways run across the multicoloured clay of the area, through dozens of bubbling mud pits and steaming vents.
Located within the Krafla volcanic area, the stench of sulphur fills the air as the road climbs over the ridge of Námafjall, whose series of cracks betray its location on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.
The Mid-Atlantic Ridge is the spot where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates meet. The boundaries where tectonic plates meet can be either convergent, where the edge of one plate is forced under the another and great slabs of the earth’s surface are lost, or divergent, where the plates tear apart and magma rises to the surface from below, forming a new crust. The latter is the case in Iceland and thus the island is literally growing by approximately two centimetres (almost an inch) every year – the speed of growing fingernails. Local farmers joke that this is the best place to buy land as it will increase every year.
The Mid-Atlantic Ridge runs across the island from southwest to northeast and is marked by a belt of volcanic craters, hot springs, steam springs, solfataras (areas of high-temperature activity) and earthquakes. The belt extends to a width of about 40 kilometres (25 miles) in the north and up to 60 kilometres (40 miles) in the south, and covers about a quarter of the country.
The plain below Námafjall is covered with pits of bubbling blue, grey and red mud, steam vents, sulphur deposits, boiling hotsprings and fumaroles.
The geothermal area has had 14 boreholes sunk into it over the past 50 years with temperatures of up to 320 degrees Celsius (608 F) recorded at a depth of 1,8 kilometres (1 mile). The boreholes were drilled for sulphur exploration and have now been covered with rocks, creating powerful fumaroles.
- Insight Guides: Iceland
- Information provided by Cruise and Maritime Voyages
- Information provided by tour guide on Cruise and Maritime Voyages excursion
- Information provided by tourist information office in Akureyri