A drive along Iceland’s ‘ring road,’ a winding narrow highway that encircles the isolated island’s 1,332 kilometre circumference, will take you from the sublime to the beautifully desolate in quick succession as views of snow spotted mountains give way lava fields, relatively young in geologic time at 800 years, covered in the country’s signature muted green moss.
But perhaps no natural feature is so stunningly otherworldly than Iceland’s geothermal activity.
The remote island is the outcome of upwelling forces, emerging in the volcanic seam between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. The result is a remarkably active geologic landscape, one pitted with boiling mud pots, meandering hot rivers and steaming caverns that open up out of a serene landscape like gaping mouths of Hades.
One of my first day trips, along Iceland’s famous Golden Circle route, I stop at the Geysir geothermal valley, a popular tourist hot spot (the English word geyser is a derivative of the Icelandic word geysir, which means gusher). The Strokkur Geysir, like Old Faithful, is a pressurized water column that superheats and erupts at regular intervals, blasting 25 to 30 metres into the air above a crowd of camera-ready spectators.
Both laconic hot pools and violently boiling cauldrons of water surround the Geysir, all of which can be seen from a vantage point just a short hike up the hill. Small-scale geothermal stations, used in a domestic capacity at houses and farms, dot the landscape, easily identifiable with their consistent plumes of steam rising into the mid-day sky, which at this latitude, above 64 degrees north, seems a bluer blue.
So here’s a few quotes Marc Morano likely won’t be including on posters to promote his climate science denying “documentary”...