The southwest quadrant of Iceland contains three glaciers: Langjokull, Hofsjokull, and Myrdalsjokull. Langjokull or "the long glacier" (1355m) is the second largest in Iceland. It has an area of about 950 km2 and the majority of it rises 1200-1300 m above sea level. Three smaller glaciers surround Langjokull: to the northwest is Eiriksjokull, to the south is Thorisjokull, and to the east is Hrutafell. Although sparse amounts of water run from the surface of the glacier, its groundwater supplies the largest lake in the country as well as the lakes to the north and geothermal areas in the west. Hofsjokull is the third largest icecap in Iceland. Hofsjokull is 923 km2 in area, the highest part being a circular plateau at an elevation of about 1800m. Beneath the ice cap is a large circular volcano, rising up to about 1600m in elevation, with a 7km wide and 650m deep caldera in the summit region. Myrdalsjokull is Iceland's fourth largest glacier and covers the active volcano, Kalta.
Mid Atlantic Ridge (North American Plate)
Active ridges consist of long linear rift segments. The rifts often appear as down faulted valleys on the ridge crests along with oblong piles of volcanic formations. The rift zones are offset to an easterly or westerly direction by fracture zones which lie approximately perpendicular to the segments. The Mid Atlantic Ridge is one of the major oceanic rift zones found in Iceland. It is15,000 km in length and is characterized by the divergent North American and Eurasian plates. These plates are actively rifting at a rate of a few centimeters a year.
Hekla is Iceland's most active volcano. Since 1104 Hekla has erupted 167 times, 15 erruptions, being major events. Hekla last erupted in 2000. Hekla's mountain ridge is approximately 40km long with a 5.5km fissure that splits the ridge in two. The mountain is about 1491 m in elevation.
Two of Iceland's most famous geyser's are the aptly named Geysir and Strokkur. Geyser's are natural hot springs that intermittently eject a column of water and steam into the air. Geysir suddenly became dormant in 1916 and since has only erupted once in 1935. One hypothisis for Geysir's cessation is the accumulation of rocks at its base, thrown there by thousands of tourists. When it was active, it could launch a huge stream of water into the air as high as 60-80 meters. Its opening is 18m wide and its chamber is 20m deep. Now that Geysir is dormant, Strokkur (The Churn) has become the areas main attraction. Strokkur is located 30m south of Geysir and erupts about every 5 minutes. Its blast can reach heights of 20-30 meters. It is called The Churn because one can watch the water at its opening bubble and churn bigger and bigger before it finally erupts.
Gullfoss (The Golden waterfall) is Iceland's most famous waterfall. It is located in the powerful glacial river of Hvita (White River) just a few kilometers from Geysir. The white cascade drops 32m into a narrow canyon which is 70m deep and 2.5km long. The two tiered fall is one of the natural wonders of the world.
Reykjavik is Iceland's capital and its largest city. It is the world's most northerly capital. Reykjavik contains six municipalities and a large harbor. It is home to three out every five Icelanders. The city was founded by Iceland's first settler, Ingolfur Arnarson. He named the city Reykjavik ("Smoky Bay") after the steam rising from the many hot springs. Iceland gained its independence from Denmark after World War II, and Reykjavik was decalred its capital.