Every fan of Iceland knows the Golden circle.
The Þingvellir national park, where the first parliament was established in the year 930, 50 years after the first Vikings decided to settle permanently in Iceland. Also, for those of you interested in geology, at Þingvellir you are walking in between the two tectonic rifts of North- America and Euro- Asia. That doesn´t mean that there is a hole leading to nowhere in between, as the tectonic plates separate, basalt ocean floor finds its way up, making Iceland grow in the west-east direction. If you feel adventurous, you can dive or snorkel in Silfra, a small pond within the lake of Þingvellir national park, with a visibility of over 100 m! With water so clean, you can actually drink it while you are in the water, a rare commodity these days.
The Geysir. Today Strokkur erupts but Geysir is “just a large hot spring”.
Why did Geysir stop erupting?
Let me tell you the history of Geysir(borrowed from wiki): The research of sinter shows that Geysir has been active for approximately 10,000 years. The oldest accounts of hot springs at Haukadalur date back to 1294, when earthquakes in the area caused significant changes in local neighbouring landscape creating several new hot springs. Changes in the activity of Geysir and the surrounding geysers are strongly related to earthquake activity. In records dated 1630 the geysers erupted so violently that the valley around them trembled. The placename “Geysir” has been first mentioned in written sources in 18th century and, as unusual natural phenomena were of high interest to the society during the Age of Enlightenment, the term became popular and has been used for similar hydrothermal features worldwide since then.
In 1845, it reached a height of 170 metres (560 ft). In 1846, the research of Geysir by Robert Bunsen resulted with the explanation of the mechanism of geyser activity. Measurements of professor Bunsen in this year showed that Geysir was erupting 45–54 metres (148–177 ft) high.
History of recent centuries shows that earthquakes have tended to revive the activity of Geysir which then subsides again in the following years. Before 1896, Geysir was almost dormant before an earthquake that year caused eruptions to begin again, occurring several times a day, lasting up to an hour and causing spouts of up to 60 metres (200 ft) in height. In 1910, it was active every 30 minutes; five years later the time between the eruptions was as much as six hours, and in 1916, the eruptions all but ceased. In 1935, a man-made channel was dug through the silica rim around the edge of the geyser vent. This ditch caused a lowering of the water table and a revival in activity. Gradually this channel became too clogged with silica and eruptions again became rare.
In 1981 the ditch was cleared again and eruptions could be stimulated, on special occasions, by the addition of soap. Following environmental concerns the practice of adding soap was seldom employed during the 1990s. During that time Geysir seldom erupted. When it did erupt, it was spectacular, sending boiling water sometimes up to 70 metres (230 ft) into the air. On the Icelandic National Day authorized government geologists would force an eruption. A further earthquake in 2000 revived the geyser again and it reached 122 meters for two days, thus becoming one of the highest known geysers in history (Waimangu Geyser in New Zealand erupted up to 460 metres (1,510 ft) high, but stopped erupting around 1900). Initially eruptions were taking place on average eight times a day. By July 2003 this activity had again decreased to around three times per day.
The nearby geyser Strokkur erupts much more frequently than Geysir, erupting to heights of up to 30 metres (98 ft) every few minutes. Strokkur’s activity has also been affected by earthquakes, although to a lesser extent than the Great Geysir. Due to its eruption frequency, online photos and videos of Strokkur are regularly mislabelled as depicting Geysir. There are around thirty much smaller geysers and hot pools in the area, including one called Litli Geysir (‘Little Geysir’).
Then Gullfoss waterfall just 10 minutes away from Geysir. Gullfoss is a tremendously powerful waterfall, with the biggest flow measured 2000 cubic metres/s! It is beautiful no matter the season. Because of its power it has been wanted to make energy, hydro energy. But what happens when you use a waterfall for its energy? You block the water, so what´s left is just a empty canyon. Cayons can be interesting, but not when you wanted to see water. Fortunatley, thanks to the nature activist of earlier days, the waterfall was saved from destruction. I think we can say; thank you Sigríður Tómasdóttir for saving Gullfoss, cause the waterfall has been protected by law since 1979.
Buy a tour to the Golden circle here.