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  • Einar Páll Svavarsson

Geysir and Strokkur hot springs


Strokkur hot spring eruption
Strokkur hot spring eruption

The Geysir hot spring is part of the geothermal field in Haukadalur valley in South Iceland, quite close to the entrance to the Kjalvegur road leading to the Highland. It has been active for 10.000 years, although the earliest accounts of hot springs in Haukadalur only date back to 1294. Geysir is a capricious hot spring, sometimes active, sometimes not. Its earliest mention was due to significant changes in the area's landscape following a mighty earthquake. Ever since, seismic activities have been carefully documented, and the geothermal field in Haukadalur has been closely monitored.


Geysir is in the South Region on the Map of Iceland
Geysir is in the South Region on the Map of Iceland

Connections between earthquakes and hot spring eruptions


Geysir hot spring erupting in summer
Geysir hot spring erupting in summer

Earthquakes tend to strengthen Geysir. It has had quite a few peaks during the nineteen century, as well as bursts of activities. If we go a bit further back, it had been more or less asleep for ages until the 1896 earthquake. Then it started erupting several times a day again, causing eruptions of up to 60 meters high and lasting for up to an hour. In 1910, Geysir was active every 30 minutes. The spells of activity rarely last more than a few months, and after the action in 1910, it looked as if the mighty Geysir was dead.


Geysir has a history of shutting off and turning on at its own convenience


Strokkur hot spring by Geysir erupting in winter
Strokkur hot spring by Geysir erupting in winter

In 1935 a channel was cut through the silica rim around its vent. The ditch resulted in a lowering of the water level and restored Geysir's activity. The channel soon became clogged with silica, and eruptions all but ceased. In 1981, the ditch was cleared again. By then, those who had authority over the hot spring realized it could be stimulated – on special occasions – by adding soap to it. Due to environmental concerns, the method was soon abandoned. The last time Geysir displayed its grandeur was following the Icelandic National Day earthquakes in 2000. It spewed its boiling water 122 m high and thus became the highest-known geyser in history.


Strokkur has taken over the responsibility of splashing boiling water from the hot spring

Strokkur first stage of eruption: The bulb
Strokkur first stage of eruption: The bulb

Today the other impressive geyser Strokkur has taken the role and responsibility of erupting every ten to fifteen minutes every day and every night of the year. It is one of the most remarkable creatures of mother nature in Iceland, almost like it was designed for tourism. It barely fails or disappoints its hundred of thousands of visitors every year.


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