Iceland 2001: Jökulsárlón

The Glacial River Lagoon of Vatnajökull

The Glacial River Lagoon of Vatnajökull

About a week ago, I found my old Kodachrome slides of my 2001 trip to Iceland. I had them converted by Bel Air Camera in Westwood to JPEG format and copied onto a CD-ROM. Over the next couple of weeks, I will be interspersing my best Iceland 2001 pictures with my regular posts.

The above glacial lagoon is near the Southeast Corner of Iceland, between Höfn and Skaftafell. Iceland is called Iceland because that corner is occupied by Europe’s biggest and most deadly glacier, Vatnajökull. And that glacier is the first part of the island that comes into view when sailing aboard a Viking craft from Europe.

Beneath a heavy layer of glacial ice at Vatnajökull lies the volcano Grimsvötn.

Think of what happens when an active volcano that is covered by a glacier suddenly erupts. You have a phenomenon, unknown in the Continental United States, referred to by Icelanders as a Jökulhlaup, a sudden flood that forms from seemingly nowhere and rushes to the sea, destroying everything in its path. It is because of this phenomenon that Iceland did not have a permanent road connecting the Southeast of Iceland to the Southwest. The picture below shows the wreckage of a steel bridge not far from the lagoon above from the 1996 eruption of Grimsvötn:

Bridge Destroyed by 1996 Eruption of Grimsvötn

Ruins of Bridge Destroyed by 1996 Eruption of Grimsvötn

The lagoon of Jökulsárlón is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the area. The calved pieces of the glacier are all shades of blue and white. It is possible to take an amphibious boat ride among the floating chunks of ice, which I plan to do next month. The bus from Reykjavík to Höfn (and back) stops there for about thirty minutes to let all the shutterbugs have a go at it.