Monday 13 May 2024


The Northern Lights over a sea of wildflowers in the marsh near Landmannalaugar, part of the Fjallabak Nature Reserve in the Highlands of Iceland.

Landmannalaugar is at the northern tip of the Laugavegur hiking trail that leads through natural geothermal hot springs and an austere yet poetically beautiful landscape. 

Here, you can see the Northern Lights play through the darkness of a night sky without light pollution and bask in the raw geology of this rugged land.

The Fjallabak region takes its name from the numerous wild and rugged mountains with deeply incised valleys, which are found there. 

The topography of the Torfajokull, a central volcano found within the Fjallabak Nature Reserve, is a direct result of the region being the largest rhyolite area in Iceland and the largest geothermal area (after Grimsvotn in Vatnajokull).

The Torfajokull central volcano is an active volcanic system but is now in a declining fumarolic stage as exemplified by numerous fumaroles and hot springs. The hot pools at Landmannalaugar are but one of many manifestations of geothermal activity in the area, which also tends to alter the minerals in the rocks, causing the beautiful colour variations from red and yellow to blue and green, a good example being Brennisteinsalda. Geologists believe that the Torfajokull central volcano is a caldera, the rim being Haalda, Suðurnamur, Norður-Barmur, Torfajokull, Kaldaklofsfjoll and Ljosartungur.

The bedrock of the Fjallabak Nature Reserve dates back 8-10 million years. At that time the area was on the Reykjanes – Langjokull ridge rift zone. 

The volcano has been most productive during the last 2 million years, that is during the last Ice Age Interglacial rhyolite lava (Brandsgil) and sub-glacial rhyolite (erupted under ice/water, examples being Blahnukur and Brennisteinsalda are characteristic formations in the area. 

To the north of the Torfajokull region, sub-glacial volcanic activity produced the hyaloclastites (Moberg) mountains, such as Lodmundur and Mogilshofdar.

On March 19, 2021, a volcanic eruption started in the Geldingadalir valley at the Fagradalsfjall mountain on the Reykjanes peninsula, South-West Iceland. The volcano is situated approximately 30 km from the country’s capital city, Reykjavík. The eruption is ongoing and the landscape in the valley and its surrounding area is constantly changing as a result.

Prior to the eruptive display earlier this year, volcanic activity over the past 10.000 years has been restricted to a few northeast-southwest fissures, the most recent one, the Veidivotn fissure from 1480, formed Laugahraun (by the hut at Landmannalaugar), Namshraun, Nordurnamshraun, Ljotipollur and other craters which extend 30 km, further to the north Eruptions in the area tend to be explosive and occur every 500 – 800 years, previous known eruptions being around AD 150 and 900.