Fjallabak Nature Reserve was established in 1979. The Nature reserve is
47.000 hectares and is over 500 meters above see level. The land is
mountainous, sculptured by volcanoes and geothermal activity, covered by
lavas, sands, rivers and lakes.
The objective of
Nature Reserves is to protect natural features so that forthcoming
generations will have the opportunity to enjoy them as we do today. In
order to achieve this the country code of conduct is enforced to prevent
damage to nature and to the appearance of the land. The desolate
wilderness and tranquility are the main characteristics of the
Fjallabak Nature Reserve, which thousands of travellers enjoy every
year. Guests in the area are reminded to abide by the code of the Nature
Reserve so as to conserve its natural features and to support recreation
in this popular area for the enjoyment of future generations as our own.
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, 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).
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.
activity in recent times (last 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
A. D 150 and 900.
average temperature in the Fjallabak Nature Reserve is probably 0-1°C.
Temperatures between 5-14°C may be expected in July and August, and in
the winter the average temperature is about –6°C. Mountain areas have
a tendency to alter the general weather situation, and the Torfajokull
Mountains are no exception. The most important local weather variations
being; lowering of temperatures, increases in wind speed, local changes
in wind direction, production of fog and mist, increased likelihood of
rain and snow. As a rough guide, winds from the south to southeast rend
to bring rain and bad weather whereas north to northeast winds usually
bring cold but finer weather. Always be prepared for sudden and
unexpected variations – they are frequent.
are primary producers. In short this means, when they grow they utilize
solar energy to make the most of the inorganic nutrients from the soil
and air. All other life lives on plants either directly or indirectly.
weather, soil and animal life determines the extent of the vegetation in
of the cold climate in the Nature Reserve, the vegetation’s growing
period is only about two moths every year, and the formation of soil
very slow. The soil is deficient in fully rotted and weathered minerals
and is therefore rough and incoherent, furthermore wind and water
transport is easily. Sandstorms, common in large parts of the area, as
well as volcanic eruptions cover the Nature Reserve with lava and ash.
If all these conditions are born in mind, together with the region being
heavily grazed through the years it does not come as a surprise that
vegetation is scarce in the Nature Reserve. Continuous vegetation cover
is rather small and the largest and greenest vegetated areas are close
to rivers and lakes i. e. the Kylingar area, which is a continuous
fenland with pools and ponds and various marsh plants. The acidic
rhyolite bedrock is largely barren, but the hyaloclastite formations are
often clothed in moss top to bottom.
150 types of flowering plants, ferns and allies have been distinguished.
Least willow is common on dry sands and lava, and cotton grass in
marshes. Lowland vegetation is found nest to the geothermal area at
Landmannalaugar with common sedge widespread and marsh cinquefoil
pleasing the eye.
For information on road conditions, see
www.road.is or call
the Road Administration Information Line (+354) 1777
HIGHLAND ICELAND SAGA