Loaded with history, both cultural and geological. Alþingi, the Icelandic parliament, was established here in 930. An eruption occurring in the year 1000 showed contemporary understanding of the forces of natural phenomena versus enraged gods. Icelanders adopted Christianity at Alþingi after some debate between the heathen extremists and the Christians.
In the park, the western tectonic rift edge is very clear.
Mount Skjaldbreiður (Fjallið Skjaldbreiður)
“Queen of all our country’s mountains,
crowned with snow sublime and pure!
Once you poured from fiery fountains
floods of lava down the moor.
Years have passed since rage and riot
ravaged meadow, glade, and field:
now you bear your name in quiet,
noble, broadly swelling shield!“
The interglacial lava shield Lyngdalsheiði borders the Þingvellir graben. To the south it it closed off by the jagged mountains of Hengill central volcanoes and Hrómundartindur, which has produced the most basic and most evolved rocks in the Þingvellir area, like the pillow basalts of Mælifell and the andesites of Stapafell.
The opposing boundary fault is called Hrafnagjá and is 11 km long, 68 m where it is widest and has a maximum throw of 30 meters. From where we stand, you can take a walk into Almannagjá, which is 7.7 km long, 64 m where it is widest with maximum throw of 30-40 meters. This is where you can see the most dramatic structure of the giant crack when the ground was being ripped apart by the forces of the seafloor spreading.
The most recent rifting within the graben and tectonic event occurred in 1789 when the graben floor subsided 1-3 meters. The old parliament flats became unusable for venues which were then moved to Reykjavík.
I hope you enjoy the magnificent landscape and encourage you to make a short stop by the Öxará waterfall on the way. Not relevant, but if you have watched The Game of Thrones, you might recognize it as one of the filming locations in season 4.
The bus will move to the other parking lot at the end of our walk through the gorge.
On our way back to Reykjavik, we will make a short detour for our next stop. It will be approximately 20 minutes drive.