Aside from the famous Geysir and Strokkur, there are a series of smaller geothermal springs. The hot springs of Haukadalur have been active for almost 10,000 years. The azure blue colour of the water is from dissolved silica.
Gullfoss means ‘golden falls,’ because on a sunny day the water appears golden-brown due to the sediment carried from its source, the glacial water of Iceland’s second biggest glacier, Langjökull. On sunny days, you can see lots of rainbows.
It is an extraordinary sight. Its average flow is 1400 cubic metres of water per second. It can partially freeze over in the winter, reducing the flow to 80 cubic metres per second.
The water plummets down 32 metres, over two tiers. It gives an illusion of there being two waterfalls flowing and disappearing into an abyss.
In 1907, Sigriður Tómasdóttir, the daughter of Tómas Tómasson, who owned the land, sought to void a contract between her father and an Englishman who wanted to harness the waterfall’s energy to produce electricity. She even threatened to throw herself off the top of the waterfall. She is thought of as Iceland’s first environmentalist. In 1979 the area was designated a nature reserve by the Icelandic government.
þingvellir National Park is sited in a rift valley and lies on the tectonic boundaries of the Mid-Atlantic ridge. Iceland is where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates meet. Earthquakes occur along the plate boundaries in Iceland. At þingvellir, the tectonic plates are pulling apart. Also in þingvellir, is Lake Þingvallavatn, the largest natural lake in Iceland, with a diverse ecosystem.
It is also an important location for the country’s history. In 930 AD, the Alþing (Althing) general assembly – Europe’s oldest (outdoor) Parliament began here.
I saw this golden, yellow poppy on a rocky hillside in the sunshine. Its unfurled petals were still creased.
An evergreen perennial.