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Eldhraun Lava Fields, Iceland

Friday, June 2, 2023 - 8:30am by Lolo
10 miles and 0.5 hours from our last stop


Eldhraun Lava FieldEldhraun Lava FieldLeaving the town of Vik, we continued east along the southern end of Iceland through an amazing variety of landscapes.

Our first stop of the day was the Eldhraun Lava Fields, right alongside the Ring Road. Covering over 218 square miles, it is the biggest lava field in the world.

Eldhraun Lava FieldsEldhraun Lava FieldsThis lava field was created by one of the most violent volcanic eruptions in history, the Lakagígar eruption in the 1700s. This eruption, which lasted from 1783 to 1784, was a cataclysmic event for Iceland, which led to disease, crop failure, and famine. As a result, between 50 and 80% of domestic animals and 20% of the human population perished.

The Eldhraun Lava Fields are an example of how plant life begins after a volcanic eruption. At first the lava flow is barren, but then a process of colonization begins, very often, as in this case with mosses. It seemed like a weird juxtaposition, but Iceland does get a lot of rain, so mosses thrive.

View from Eldhraun Lava FieldsView from Eldhraun Lava FieldsThe Eldhraun lava field is covered with a special type of moss called woolly fringe moss, a very fragile moss which takes about a hundred years to grow. That is why environmental scientists were so angered by Justin Bieber dancing and trampling the moss here in the filming of his famous music video “I’ll Show You”.

The landscape is so otherworldly that NASA astronauts used this lava field to train for the Apollo 11 mission, because they believed that Eldhraun’s landscape and geological conditions would match those of the moon.

The view of the surrounding landscape from the lava fields was lovely and pristine. Hard to believe that this was the site of such a cataclysmic event.

Eldhraun Lava Fields location map in "high definition"

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