#lava

Are you looking for a place to shake your brain and legs? Are you interested in Iceland and the many active natural forces like earthquakes, eruption and moving glaciers? The new Lava Center is a place you should seriously consider. A unique and highly interesting exhibition center with interactive exhibits located only a few kilometers from the notorious Eyjafjallajökuill glacier/volcano, and other active volcanos.

When you enter the exhibition, you start in a corridor that tells the story of a century of eruptions in Iceland.

One of the contributions to the image of Iceland as an exotic place are the frequent eruptions that occur on a regular basis. If you plan to visit the Highland in Iceland and if you are looking for things to do, one option is to visit Holuhraun lava field.  Holuhraun is the name of our latest eruption originating in a large fissure eruption on the black sands north of the ice cap Vatnajökull or Water Glacier. This eruption occurred at the end of August 2014 and lasted for six winter moths until the end of February 2015. In the end, the eruption had produced 85 square kilometers of a lava field, one of the largest in Iceland's geological history.

A quiet but massive eruption

Since the eruption surfaced on sand deep in the highland of Iceland, it was a quiet eruption.  The only threat were the highly toxic chemicals associated with the eruption, steaming out of the glowing lava, so authorities in Iceland banned visits to the volcanic fissure.  This was the main reason Holuhraun eruption did not develop into a tourist eruption like many recent eruptions in Iceland, like the Eyjafjallajokull volcano.

New rocks and stones that recently lived in a thousand degree magma

The result from this massive eruption is a large lava field mids in the Highland in Iceland.  Here you can meet to latest members of the Geological family on planet earth. Newly formed rocks and stones in a lava field that lived for ages in the glowing magma under the surface, and ironically under the ice cap Vatnajökull with more than one thousand degrees between the magma and the ice cap.

How to go to Holuhraun lava field

Visiting the new lava field requires a 4X4 vehicle since you need to drive off road tracks and cross rivers. A modified 4X4 vehicle is recommended.  Although there are a few options to drive to Holuhraun, one of the most popular is to drive the mountain road F88 from the Ring Road nr. 1 a few kilometers east of Myvatn and head to Herðubreiðalindir on a road called Öskjuvegur. South of Herðubreiðalindir you take the mountain road F910 to the mountain huts at Dreki or Dragon as the place is called. At Dreki you also find a visitor center with a wealth of information about the Vatnajokull National Park. From Dreki you continue on Road 910 to the lava field to enter the world of new rocks and stones in the Holuhraun lava.

Holuhraun the new lava

Our next stop was Holuhraun right by Vatnajökull, Iceland’s biggest glacier. It feels unreal to imagine rocks being only 2 years old. Nevertheless this 85 square km lava field practically just dried up and cooled down. With smoke still steaming up in a few places it is magical to see and feel this newly born mass of lava. We are still traveling in the Icelandic Highland collecting content and photos for our website Hit Iceland. Follow our adventures.

Holuhraun right by Vatnajökull, Iceland’s biggest glacier.

If you are keen on caves, Iceland is the place for you. Hallmundarhraun in Borgarjörður is indeed the best area for exploring caves. Half an hours drive from Surtshellir is the majestic Víðgelmir. Víðgelmir is one of the most intriguing caves in Iceland. It is 1585 kilometer long. The highest point inside the cave is 15.8 meter, and its width is 16.5 meters.  Víðgelmir formed in the same eruption as Surtshellir, but it differs from other caves in various aspects. It has stunning ice formations that are constantly changing. Sometimes, the ice even closes the cave.

Deep inside the cave you will find areas with stunningly well-preserved lava stalactites and stalagmites. And, like most large caves in Iceland it used to be inhabited by outlaws. Human and animal bones, as well as jewelry from approximately the year 1000, were discovered inside the cave – but have, of course, been removed for further research.

The cave's pitfall doubles as an entrance. It is 75 meters long, 15 meters long and quite deep. Once down there, the cave starts with a narrow tunnel that leads into the main chamber. From there the cave is quite accessible all the way to the bottom.
 

Víðgelmir is one of the most intriguing caves in Iceland.

The Snaefellsnes Peninsula is one of the most Saga invested parts of Iceland. Every part and every place have a reference to one of the major Sagas; the most prominent being Eyrbyggja or the Saga of the People of Eyri and Laxdæla. Sagas and stories that were written six to nine hundred years ago about the settlement and medieval times in Iceland.

The lava field Berserkjahraun

On this Peninsula, you will find the impressive and beautiful Berserkjahraun, or the Berserk Lava Field. The lava is located in the county of Helgafell, near to the Stykkishólmur town. Its sources are four prominent but differently sized scoria craters forming an east-west row from the Ogress Pass (Kerlingarskard).  They erupted at short intervals approximately 3600-4000 years ago. The lava flows created two lakes on their southern side and added to the serenity and beauty of the landscape.  Like many lava fields in Iceland, the lava is a joy to view but always tough to walk. 

Berserkjahraun is an ideal place for peaceful camping

This beautiful area is ideal for recreation, hiking, angling and mountain climbing.  When driving along a dirt road that you can see on the map below, the one that leads into, and around the lava field you'll find small areas of grass ideal for camping. You might even be able to spot a White Tailed Eagle nest in the rugged lava field.  A hike up to the nearby mountains will give you a spectacular view over the Breiðafjörður bay and all the thousands of islands. 

What does the name Berserkjahraun tell us?

And the name Berserkjahraun? It comes from the Eyrbyggja Saga where Vermundur, the farmer at Bjarnarhöfn brought two berserks from Norway in 982 - with unforeseen consequences.  You can read about their misfortune in our article about the Berserks at Berserkjahrun.  Two dudes that became victims of love.

The Berserk Lava Field

Apart from the Snæfellsjökull glacier, Mount Keilir on the Reykjanes Peninsula is possibly the most painted mountain in Iceland. This perfectly cone-shaped mountain has always fascinated artists. It is renowned for the colorful display of lights and shadows surrounding it at dawn and dusk, often bathing the mountain in a mythical light.

Keilir is a palagonite mountain. It was formed during a sub-glacial eruption during the Ice age. Still, Keilir is not a stratovolcano, like the Snæfellsjökull glacier or the famous Eyjafjallajökull glacier that are cone-shaped volcanoes erupting at relatively regular intervals. Keilir was formed through a single eruption beneath a dense Ice age glacier. Such volcanoes are usually palagonite mountains and they erupt only once.

Keilir is only about 380 meters high and relatively easy to climb. The mountain is very popular amongst hikers.  The view from the top is spectacular. During the years, two trails have formed on the east side of the mountain. It is wise to stick to those trails, as the mountain's gravel is quite loose. On the top, you will find an observation platform with an excellent overview of the Reykjavík Peninsula. There you can appreciate how extremely geologically active the area has been throughout the centuries.

Mount Keilir on the Reykjanes Peninsula