New Rift at Þingvellir National Park

Only a few weeks ago, I was walking down the narrow rift valley at Þingvellir National Park, on the Top 10 Tour with Extreme Iceland. In a sunken path between high walls of cliff and rock face; the North America tectonic plate was to my left, and the Eurasian tectonic plate was to my right.

As any good Geography major should’ve be, I was in heaven. I live for all things geology; tectonic plates and volcanoes have always been my passion. I was literally standing between two continents and loving every minute of it.

Little did I know, my feet were resting on a very thin layer of soil that in only two weeks time would crumble and give way to an enormous new rift in the Earth.

Strangely enough, although I was the one that just returned from Iceland, my sister brought this to my attention yesterday…

In March of 2011, a narrow fissure started to form at the entrance of the rift’s long pathway at Almannagjá. Measures were taken to keep the area safe for tourists, and protect the fissure from any further erosion. A large wooden bridge-like platform was laid over top of the gap and a tall chain fence surrounded the entire thing.

When I visited Þingvellir in late August of 2011, I didn’t pay much attention to the fence. I briefly wondered why it was there, but I was too excited about all of the physical geology going on around me to be bothered with a man-made fence. I only snapped one photo with the fence in the background.

I may not have photographed the fence itself, but I set my camera and tripod directly beside the fence (to keep out of the way of other tourists) to take some portraits of my friend & I.

For a few moments, I stood directly over the soil that was unknowingly eroding away under my very feet. Only a thing layer of soil and Earth stood between me and a gaping hole between the continents.

It is believed that the new rift was caused by greater than usual thawing in the Spring and a series of small Earthquakes in the area, as well as larger ones in the South. Of course, it also seems logical that the Mid-Atlantic Ridge is just continuing to pull apart, creating new rifts in the valley.

It is also being considered whether the new hole should be filled with dirt, or if it can be worked in as a new tourist attraction. Personally, I think that they should leave it as it is, and possibly build a viewing area around it. What do you think?

Top 10 Tour with Extreme Iceland


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4 Responses to “New Rift at Þingvellir National Park”

  1. Candice
    September 19, 2011 at 9:24 am #

    Oh dude, I love all that geology and continental drift shit too! You should check out Trout River Pond in Gros Morne National Park. Same type dealio.
    Candice recently posted..How I Learned to Love Anne of Green Gables

    • Seattle
      September 19, 2011 at 11:23 am #

      Oooh, that’s awesome. I’ll definitely plan to go there at some point 😀

  2. Jane
    September 20, 2011 at 6:34 pm #

    That was really an awesome place to visit with and I haven’t seen that before. I’m planning too how to be there, maybe one of these days and just wanna say that I also love that geology and continental drift. I am so excited now!
    Jane recently posted..Five Basic Guidelines for Men to Attract Women

    • Seattle
      September 20, 2011 at 6:40 pm #

      I hope that you can make it 😀

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