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Geological Phenomena and Historical Sites

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Within the national park's limits are highly interesting geological phenomena and historical sites.  According to geological findings, the volcanic drift belt crossed the Snaefells Peninsula about 6 million years ago.  The volcanic activity at that time was similar to the one now experienced in the present volcanic area.  Rivers, and later the ice age glaciation, carved the country and removed 500-1000 metres off the lava plateau.  Intrusions of rhyolitic rock were created and sedimentation covered the base rock.  Volcanic activity started again about 2 million years ago, mainly in the Ljosufjoll, the Lysuskard and Snaefellsjokull areas.  This activity was unlike the earlier volcanism, because of the lack of drift and the different composition of the tephra. The Snaefellsjokull area extends from Mt. Maelifell in the east and the headland Ondverdarnes in the west.

The most prominent lava fields of the westernmost part of the peninsula are Budahraun, Hnausahraun, Klifhraun, Hellnahraun, Haahraun, Neshraun, Saxholahraun, Prestahraun and Vaejuhraun.  All of them are rugged AA-lavas except Neshraun, which is a Pa Hoj Hoj lava, created by the caters Ondverdanesholar.  The lava fields Hnausahraun, Klifhraun, Hellnahraun and Vaejuhraun are probably younger than 1750 years, but the Haahraun was created by an eruption of the main crater of the Snaefellsjokull 1750 years ago.

During the earlier centuries there was much activity along the coastline.  Wherever natural conditions permitted there were fishing outfits, where hundreds, if not thousands, of fishermen, who frequented the rich fishing grounds near the coast, used open rowboats.  The most renowned among them is Dritvik, where the fisheries probably started in the 16th century, and according to the annals between 300 and 400 fishermen, using 60 boats, spent the time during the fishing seasons.  Ruins of their abodes and a lava maze on the hill south of the cove are protected.

Other historic monuments are scattered within the national park limits, some of which are connected with legends and historic novels.  Two novels have put the Snaefells Peninsula permanently on the map, Jules Verne’s novel “The Journey to the Centre of the Earth”, and Halldor Kiljan Laxness’ novel “Christianity under the Glacier”.

West Iceland Saga Trail


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