Iceland is open for travel: Volcanic eruption in Iceland 2024

The Amazing Geology of Iceland

|April 13, 2023
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The dramatic geological features of Iceland attract visitors and scientists from all over the world. It demonstrates the dramatic power of mother nature. The epic geology, which is heavily impacted by volcanic activity, is drastically different across the island, making it a must-visit for those interested in the topic.

Tectonic Plates

Eurasian and North American tectonic plates in Thingvellir National Park, Iceland

Iceland's vast landscape is shaped by its location over two tectonic plates. This joining of active plates, Eurasian and North American, is one of the only places on land where you can witness the impact of them pulling apart. This unique geological trait has created rugged and raw characteristics that attract thousands of visitors to Iceland every year. Factoring in the chance to stand (and even swim) between the plates, this geological feature is one to explore.

In Iceland, the beautiful narrow valley called Almannagjá is a sacred place. Historically, ancient law speakers would stand on the rock above the gorge and announce the laws. This valley, formed through Iceland’s unique geology, is still an important place in Iceland today. Visitors head to Almannagjá in Thingvellir National Park to learn about its history and formation. Thingvellir national park is a main stop on our collection of Golden Circle tours.


Fagradalsfjall volcano eruption in 2021, Iceland

Iceland's location on the mid-ocean ridge, a mountainous system of volcanos that wraps around the world, offers a unique chance to see how this boundary affects the landscape in terms of geology.

Causing the separation of the ridge, the molten lava, from under the Earth's Crust, rises, cools and hardens, expanding the gap between the plates. This widening space caused a surge in volcanic activity, which formed young Iceland 33 million years ago.

Today, this movement creates new volcanos and reactivates old ones. Iceland faces volcanic eruptions every 5 to 10 years. However, this should not stop you from exploring volcanic terrain such as the fascinating formations at Raufarhólshellir lava cave. Katla, located in south Iceland, is one of the island's largest volcanos. Its location and the unique ice caves, which are burrowed underneath, make it a popular visitor spot. 

For more tours of Iceland’s dormant volcanoes, check out our guided tours.

Black Sand Beaches

Renisfjara Black Sand Beach in south of Iceland

Black sand beaches are rare: they are created by the unique conditions of hot lava being cooled quickly. Iceland’s volcanic activity and icy water create the perfect environment for the black sand to form. You can find black sand beaches dotted along the south coast of Iceland. One of the most popular beaches is Reynisfjara with its black sand and contrasting white waves. Other black sand beaches include plane wreck beach, which you can explore on a quad bike tour. Browse our other quad biking tours today.

Hot Springs

Deildartunguhver Geothermal Spring - the most powerful hot spring in Europe, Iceland

The extensive geothermal activity in Iceland is one of the most distinctive geological features and has caused over 100 bathing hot springs to appear across the island. They're formed by magma heating groundwater and the water rising to the surface. With its volcanic terrain, Iceland is the perfect place for springs to form. 

Hot springs are dotted across Iceland leaving visitors with many options. For visits to Hvammsvik spring, explore our tours.


Strokkur Geyser in Iceland's Golden Circle route

A geyser is formed similarly to hot springs, however much rarer. It is formed by a tube-like hole on the surface that runs down deep into the crust. When the water begins to boil, it turns to steam or gas that jets towards the surface. The result can be a rush of water shooting up to 40 meters into the air!

The Great Geysir is the most famous one on Island, however, it does lay dormant now. A more active Geysir to visit is Strokkur Geyser in Thingvellir national park. It is a popular destination on many of our guided day tours.

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