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Melrakkasletta

Region: North Iceland
Coordinates: 66.4499982 ° N 15.9499962° W

About Melrakkasletta

The northeastern peninsula is nameless, but its largest portion is nicknamed “Sletta” short for “The Plain of the Arctic Fox”. Its mountains rise up to 400 m above sea level. In the west their structure is basaltic hyaloclastites and in the east it is mixed with solid basaltic rock. A reddish looking mound in the west, called Raudinupur, is coloured by red scoria (slag) suggesting an extinct central volcano. There the cliffs are teeming with seafowl, such as black and Brünnich’s guillemots, razorbills, puffins and the northernmost colony of the gannets. Most of the farms of the peninsula have been abandoned. In the past the inhabitants practiced sustenance farming, fishing and hunting. Both the sea and the lakes abound and practical people survived quite well there. The country’s northernmost point is Hraunhafnartangi, just about 3 km south of the Arctic Circle. Hraunhofn (Lava Harbour) was frequented by arriving and departing vessels during the Saga Period.

The geological structure of “Sletta” is mainly solid ice age basaltic rock (dolerite), and on top of it are swampy and tundra like areas with lakes and mounds. Valley “Blikalonsdalur” is a 20 km long, shallow depression in the landscape depicting the remainders of a former Graben. The western part of “Sletta” is dotted with lakes, ponds and streams with well vegetated areas between them as well as totally eroded mounds and hills. The eastern part is much drier and dotted with somewhat vegetated and tufted landscapes. The last farmer in the area abandoned his property, Hrauntangi, in 1943.

The northernmost village of the mainland, Raufarhofn, is a diminishing community on the eastern part. During its hay day, it was among the most important herring processing and export towns of the country and there are a few reminders of that period still standing.

Photo Credit: Visit North Iceland

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