The Geysers of Iceland
with anywhere else in the world, every geyser in Iceland has its source of power underground where water from the surface is gathered in caverns. This water is heated by the temperature of the volcanic rock, which is about 200 C and then expands into the energy of steam. Starting with the boiling of the water, a bubble is formed, bursting as the steam, lighter than the water beneath, forces its way through the surface, making an impressive column. It is a sight that can produce some of the most dramatic and best landscape photos.
Many people associate “geyser” with the famed Old Faithful in Yellowstone Park, USA, but the name originated in Iceland. The “Great Geysir” in the small island country is the founding name of all others and reportedly arose in the 13th century; a massive earthquake took place in the southern lowlands of Iceland, changing the geothermal area in Haukadalur. The Great Geysir became dormant, but in the twentieth century it was reawakened by further earthquakes and today, it erupts every 8 to 10 hours.
Strokkur is regarded as the second most famous geyser in Iceland and has the impressive record of erupting every 8 minutes. It shoots steam and water to a height of about 20 meters and is a sight never to be forgotten. During certain times of the year, the steam from a geyser can evaporate in the air and then turn into ice, producing an almost surreal affect.
Another sensation created by a geyser is when eruptions are of an especially violent nature and the earth trembles underfoot, with the hearing of distant growling and rumbling from the depths. The temporary smell of sulfur accompanies the eruptions, which adds to the atmosphere and overall encounter. There are other and smaller geysers in Iceland, each with their own character, but all the cause of an unusual experience.
When viewing the surface round the geyser, the edge of its opening or mouth is encircled with what appear to be a small pile of stones. The immediate area is covered with an ashen mineral crust, with the water in the basin, brilliantly clear and close to boiling. The periods of geyser eruptions can generally be determined fairly accurately. This is probably because of the set time for the cycle, with the released water returning to its cavern and reheated to the activating temperature.