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TORFAJOKULL
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HISTORY of VOLCANISM

 

The Torfajokull volcanic area (about 190 km²) comprises the largest high temperature area of the country (140 km²).  Standing on a good vantage point overlooking the whole area is almost like sitting in a boat on a boiling and steaming, unstable and colourful lake.  The active fissure area is about 6 km wide and 31 km long.  This part of the country also comprises the largest rhyolite area with various breccias, basaltic lava fields, alkaline lava fields, hyaloclastites, tillite and rhyolitic craters.  Some of these formations can be traced to the latest warm and cold epochs of the Ice Age.

The highest peak of the relatively low, but carved and cut landscape, is Haskerdingur (1,278 m) of the Kaldaklof Mountains.  In the proximity of Landmannalaugar rhyolitic rock is dominant and the colours of the landscape are simply unbelievable.  Mt Blahnukur was created sub-glacially.  Mt Brennisteinsalda as well, but also during the latest warm epoch and the rhyolitic crater in its slopes around the year 1480 as well as the lava field to the south of Lake Frostastadavatn.  The volcanic activity during Holocene was mainly concentrated in the western part of the Torfajokull Area between Mt Laufafell in the south and the craters Stutur and Ljotipollur in the north.  The Veidivotn fissure system continues from there all the way to the Bardarbunga Glacier Area.

Fissure eruptions in the Veidivotn Area around the year 150 AD have been confirmed and at the same time similar eruptions near the crater Hnausapollur on the Sigalda Road and the creation of the Domadalur Lava Field (Domadalur Road).  The number of alkaline, rhyolitic lava fields in the Torfajokull Area has not been confirmed, but they are considered to be 8-11.

A two coloured ash layer from the early 10th century was considered to be the product of the Torfajokull area, but the darker part of it has now been traced to the so-called Vatnaoldur Craters near Lakes Veidivotn and the light coloured, rhyolitic part from simultaneous volcanic activity in the Torfajokull Area, when the Obsidian Lava Field (Hrafntinnuhraun) was created.  The southernmost craters of the area are in the proximity of Mt Laufafell, Lakes Skyggnisvotn and the so-called Midvegur Route.


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