For half my Iceland trip, I rented a car and got out into the country a bit. So the thing about Iceland that becomes pretty clear after just a few hours of driving around: It’s entirely volcanic. In fact, and weirdly, the geology of Iceland is a lot like the geology of Hawaii. It’s just that one is tropical and one is sub-arctic, and it’s so cool seeing how those differences in climate play out. Instead of being covered with lush jungle, the lava fields in Iceland are covered in scrubby moss and birch. (Well, the windward side of the Big Island is scrubby new lava fields, much like Iceland.) But there are still waterfalls everywhere you look, and basalt cliffs falling into the ocean, and entire mountain ranges that could go off at any moment.
It’s very cool.
At one point I said the immortal words, “Hey, I’m not in a hurry, let’s take the back way!” I probably shouldn’t have done that, but I’m really glad I did.
Coming around a curve, I looked out the window and saw this:
I think I actually said out loud, “Oh my God a shield volcano.” Like, an actual classic shield volcano just sitting out there. I pulled over to the side of the road to get a picture, I was so excited. I checked later and learned this is Mt Skjaldbreiður, and it produced the lava fields that make up Þingvellir National Park.
Mt. Snaefells, of Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth fame, is also a shield volcano.
So. Much. Geology, y’all.