Geosites

Reykjanes UNESCO Global Geopark is an area of 829 square kilometers, 0.85% of Iceland. There the Mid-Atlantic Ridge rises above sea level. Various forms of volcanic activity that has shaped the peninsula for a long time. In the Geopark it’s easy to find geothermal activity and see the shaping of different landscapes, hundreds of different craters, caves and lava fields, a variety of bird life, astonishing cliffs, high geothermal activity, and black sand beaches.

The Geopark and its hiking trails are accessible all year round. 

GEOLOGY

1. Arnarsetur
A monogenetic volcanic fissure (2 km) with scoria and spatter craters, rugged lava formations (20 sq. km), lava tubes and remains of human activities. The eruption was an integral part of Reykjanes Fires, a volcano-tectonic episode in 1210-1240.

2. Brennisteinsfjöll
A large cluster of late Ice Age hyaloclastite mountains, including a prominent lava shield (Kistufell), lined with Holocene but prehistoric volcanic fissures. A high-temperature area is located in the northern part, where sulphur was mined around 1880.

3. Djúpavatn/Spákonuvatn/Arnarvatn
Three lakes in the hylaoclastite Ice Age ridges Vesturháls and Sveifluháls, containing groundwater. Djúpavatn is partly a crater lake, close to Djúpavatnsleið road, Spákonuvatn crater lake to the Sog-geosite and Arnarvatn to a marked path across Sveifluháls.

4. Eldborg next to Höskuldarvellir
The grassy field, Höskuldarvellir northwest of Grænadyngja and Trölladyngja is bordered in the northeast by a large, prehistoric monogenetic scoria and spatter cone. It has been utilized as a gravel mine, thus damaged. Steam vents line the surroundings.

5. Eldborg next to Geitahlíð
A prehistoric, volcanic fissure cuts into the slopes of Geitafell, a hylaoclastite table mountain. Out of five craters, made of scoria but chiefly of spatter, one is by far the highest, with a prominent lava channel branching off to the east.

6. Eldvörp
A 10-km-long row of scoria and spatter cones in off-set (en echelon) sections, with centrally placed geothermal features and a borehole. It dates from a volcano-tectonic episode in 1210-1240 (Reykjanes Fires). The lava flow covers 20 sq. km, with remains of human activities.

7. Grænadyngja/Trölladyngja
Steep hyaloclastite mountains west of Sog - geosite. Geothermal sites and younger volcanic fissures border them, associated with various lava flows, including Afstapahraun (aa type) close to the Keflavik Int. Airport main road.

8. Hafnarberg
A long line of sheer sea lava cliffs south of the old fishing hamlet of Hafnir. Various marine birds nest at the cliffs. A walk to Hafnarberg is popular among hikers and bird watchers, along a marked path from the road to Reykjanes.

9. Háleyjarbunga
A small, flat lava shield with a large, 20 to 25-m-deep crater. At least 9,000 years old, it was formed during a highly effusive lava eruption. The basalt-type is a primitive deep-mantle derived picrite that contains much of the green mineral olivine.

10. Hrafnagjá
The normal fault and tension fracture, Hrafnagjá, is the longest of its kind at the Reykjanes Peninsula, 12 km long and up to 30 m high. Visible from the road to Keflavík Int. Airport, a set of fractures east of Vogar village forms a typical rift valley.

11. Hrólfsvík
A small inlet, known as a locality for xenoliths (gabbroic crystal aggregates related to the host magma), embedded in an old lava flow of uncertain age and origin.

12. Hrútagjárdyngja
A lava shield, 6,000 to 6,500 years old, plus a lava flow, 80-100 sq. km, has a volume of at least 3 cu. km. Besides a large top carter, the upper part is cut by deep ravines, probably due to magma injections, causing the whole structure to inflate.

13. Hvassahraunkatlar
Hornitos in the Hrútagjá lava shield flow. Hornitos usually form due to powerful degassing at crater edges. These ones, however, came into being approx. 10 km away from the top crater.

14. Katlahraun
Lava that flowed about 2,000 years ago entered the sea. Sudden damming at the shore caused a large, circular lava pond to form. Some lava solidified, but the remaining liquid escaped. The site now contains various lava formations.

15. Kerlingarbás
Seaside remains of three large tephra rings, 800 to 2,000 years old, topped by lava flows. The uppermost one originated at the Younger Stampar crater row during the Reykjanes Fires, like the youngest tephra layers. Dykes cut through the tephra banks.

16. Lambafellsgjá
Lambafell probably stems from the second last glacial period. Tensional fractures cut through it. One opens up in the north to from Lambafellsgjá, 150 m long, 50 m deep but only 3 to 6 m wide, with pillow lava walls. Visitors can enter and exit.

17. Méltunnuklif
A stack of bedrock layers including lava flows, palagonite tuff, tillites, interbeds and erosion planes. Méltunnuklif contains several pages of geological history that illustrates key bedrock of formations of the Reykjanes peninsula.

18. Rosmvalanes
A large flat area that represents the oldest part of the Reykjanes peninsula. The topmost bedrock is heavily eroded lava shield basalt, dating from the last (Eem) and second last warm Ice Age period (Saalian), around 120,000 and 240,000 years old.

19. Sandfellshæð
One of the largest lava shields of the Reykjanes peninsula. The lava flow area exceeds 100 sq. km. The crater is large but shallow. The eruption occurred about 14,000 years ago, when sea level was some 30 m lower than today.

20. Skálafell
A volcano formed in a few eruptions, 3,000 to 8,000 years ago. The top crater is a handsome scoria and spatter cone. Large normal faults close by mark the eastern borders of Reykjanes Volcanic System and the Southwestern volcanic rift zone.

21. Sog
A set of fluvial gullies and prows to the southwest of Trölladyngja. The area is colourful due to intense high-temperature alteration of the bedrock and a number of steam vents, small hot water springs and bubbling mud pools.

22. Stampar
Two parallel volcanic fissures on Reykjanes. Both are lined with numerous craters. The older row is 1,800 to 2,000 years old. The younger one dates from the volcano-tectonic Reykjanes Fires in 1210–1240, plus a 4.6 sq. km lava flow.

23. Sundhnúksröð
A monogenetic crater row formed about 2,300 years ago. The lava flow entered the sea (where the town of Grindavík is today) and created a low-rise, rocky seashore with a lagoon where the present harbour was step-wise designed.

24. Sveifluháls
One of the largest multi-summit hyaloclastite ridges in the Geopark. It is interesting for its variety of hyaloclastite formations; layered tuff, breccia and pillow lava. The rocks bear witness to interaction between magma, glacier ice and water.

25. Þráinsskjöldur
A very large, flat lava shield, visible from the road to the Keflavik Int. Airport. The road cuts through its vast lava flow. It is of the pahoehoe lava-type, at least 130 sq. km (5,2 cu km) and dates about 14,000 years back.

26. Ögmundarhraun
A lava flow from 1151, formed during the volcano-tectonic Krýsuvík Fires (1151-1180). A tale of the berserkur Ögmundur relates how he constructed a track through the lava flow. The discontinuous volcanic fissure stretches some 25 km to the northeast.

GEOLOGY AND CULTURE

27. Brimketill
A small, naturally carved pool, by marine erosion, at the lava shore edge west of the town of Grindavík. The folklore relates that the pond was regularly occupied by a giantess named Oddný.

28. The Bridge Between Continents
A symbolic footbridge,The Bridge Between Continents, spans a wide tension crack that opened up due to the divergent movements of the North American and Eurasian plates. The average rifting amounts to about 2 cm/year but commences in bursts.

29. Eldey
A-77-m-high island, of unknown age, made of layered palagonite tuff on top of the Reykjanes ridge, 15 km offshore, from a tephra eruption on this section of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The area is 0.3 sq. km, large enough for up to 18,000 gannet pairs to nest.

30. Gunnuhver
A group of vigorous mud pools and steam vents at Reykjanes. They change with time. The group partly formed after earthquakes in 1967. The name stems from a story about the vicious ghost Gunna who was lured into a vent and never seen again.

31. Festarfjall/Hraunsvík
A hyaloclastite mountain formed during a subglacial eruption, possibly during the Weichselian glaciation. Marine erosion has opened up a cross section of palagonite tuff, breccia, pillow lava and a feeder dyke; a silver necklace belonging to a giantess.

32. Hópsnes
A spit next to the town of Grindavík. It was formed during an eruption from a row of craters north of the town (Sundhnúksröðin). Port conditions are good as a result of the lava entering the sea.

33. Húshólmi
A clearing (kipuka) over which the lava Ögmundarhraun didn´t flow during an eruption in 1151, with remains of farm buildings and a church, plus turf and rock walls. Some farm buildings and much of the farmland was destroyed.

34. Keilir/Keilisbörn
A cone-shaped hyaloclastite mountain attached to a low ridge (Keilisbörn). The formation stems from an eruption beneath an Ice Age glacier. Keilir is an icon for the Reykjanes Peninsula due to its distinct shape, and an old navigation mark.

35. Kleifarvatn
The largest lake on the peninsula, 9.1 sq. km and 97 m deep, in a depression between the Brennisteinsfjöll massif and the ridge Sveifluháls. It has minor surface inflow and only groundwater outflow. Folklore depicts a large Nessie-like black worm in the lake.

36. Remains of human activities in Eldvörp
Remains of human activities in the Eldvörp lava flow; three paths represent old trading and communication routes and ruins of numerous small huts, built of lava pieces, are of unknown age and purpose. Outlaws? No, not likely.

37. Ósar
A rocky inlet adjacent to the old hamlet of Hafnir with its newly excavated pre-settlement ruins of a Norse (or Celtic) outpost. Ósar is an important, protected site due to the blooming birdlife and interesting marine biology.

38. Pattersonflugvöllur
The Patterson-airstrip was built on consolidated marine sediments with subfossil marine molluscs. The most common species is blunt gaper (Mya truncata), 20,000 to 22,000 years old, from a period before the Weichselian Late Glacial Maximum.

39. Selatangar
Low-rise seashore lava spits with ruins of a seasonal fishing station (for open rowing boats). The fishermen´s huts and sheds for drying or storing fish were constructed from lava rocks. The station operated from the Middle Ages until 1884.

40. Snorrastaðatjarnir/Háibjalli
Háibjalli is a 10 m high normal fault next to the ponds of Snorrastaðatjarnir. The location is rich in vegetation and a important resting place for migrating birds as well as a popular recreational zone.

41. Sogasel
Ruins of a shieling (a hut used during the pasture period for the sheep) close to Grænadyngja and Sog. The shieling is unique because it is constructed in a large scoria crater.

42. Svartsengi
One of the major geothermal areas of the Reykjanes Peninsula. It supplies communities with hot water, as well as electricity to the national grid. Effluent water creates the Blue Lagoon. The Resource Park is a prime example of geothermal energy utilization.

43. Valahnúkur/Valabjargargjá/Valahnúksmöl
The shoreline at Reykjanes where the Mid-Atlantic Ridge connects to Iceland. Valabjargargjá is the normal fault to the east and Valahnúkur an eroded hill (palagonite tuff, pillow lava and breccia). Valahnúkamöl is a beach berm, made of large boulders.

44. Þorbjarnarfell
A free-standing, hyaloclastite mountain north of Grindavik. It is split by fault lines that create a shallow valley (graben). A part is called "The Thieves´ Gap" (Þjófagjá), occupied by 15 thieves according to the legend.

CULTURE

45. Básendar
In 1799, an powerful storm, combined with high spring tide, produced the worst, known flood in the southwest: Básendaflóð, named after a small trading post and fishing harbour. The shoreline changed and buildings were destroyed.

46. Drykkjarsteinn
A large rock at the old track between Krýsuvík and Grindavík, The Rock of Drinks. It has three holes, one to hold water for dogs, another for humans and the third for horses. There, travellers were to trust that they could find drinking water.

47. Garðskagaviti
Two lighthouses next to each other. The old one was built in 1897 and the second in 1944. Prior to the old lighthouse, a large cairn was erected and a lamp added in 1884. The site is important for migrating birds.

48. Gálgaklettar
High hyaloclastite cliffs form the summit of Mt. Þorbjarnarfell close to Grindavík town. Thieves, captured in the area, were executed at Gallows Cliffs, according to an old folktale.

49. Hvalsneskirkja
A beautifully preserved church and graveyard, from 1887. The building is built with basalt lava blocks, retrieved from the neighborhood, and the interior partly crafted from driftwood. A similar church is in Njarðvík.

50. Reykjanesviti
The Reykjanes lighthouse is the oldest lighthouse currently operated in Iceland, from 1908. A lighthouse keeper and farmer used to live next to the lighthouse but now the operation is remotely controlled.

51. Skagagarðurinn
Remains of a wall from the early Commonwealth period (870-1000 AD). The wall served to separate livestock from fields and crops. The wall was tall, built of turf and rocks, but has subsided, and large sections have vanished.

52. Staðarborg
An isolated sheep shelter. It is rounded but without a roof, over 2 m high, 8 m in diameter, and 35 m in circumference, skillfully made of flat lava rocks. The age is unknown but considered a few hundred years.

53. Vigdísarvellir
A wide, open grassy field at the foot of hyaloclastite ridges. Remains of two small farms illustrate an old way of life in remote highland farms. The younger farm was abandoned after a strong earthquakes in 1905.

54. Vogur í Höfnum
Remains of the oldest occupation on the peninsula, dated to the 9th century. It is possible that the ruins, a longhouse (skáli) and smaller constructions, constitute an explorer´s outpost, like Nordic buildings in Newfoundland.

55. Þórshöfn
One of the main German trading post in Iceland during the 15th and 16th centuries. During the 19th century, ships started frequenting the harbour again but it was gradually abandoned, as the Sandgerði harbour was improved.

 

  • Reykjanes information center
  • Duus - culture centre
  • Duusgata 2-8
  • 230 Reykjanesbær, Iceland
  • (+354) 421 3796
  • info@visitreykjanes.is