Land of Fire and Ice

Anyone following my posts from Iceland will know that I’ve for the most part only encountered ice and thankfully no fire on my various visits.  However, every now and then when visiting Iceland, you’ll come to a place where you’re made very aware just how thin the earth’s crust is where you’re standing.  It may just be a whiff of hydrogen sulphide on the air (which may or may not make you hanker after an egg salad sandwich as it has frequently done to me on these trips)  or you might see a column of steam rising from a mountainside.

Volcano70mm f/4 1/125 sec. ISO-50

On this latest visit, equipped with a vehicle capable of tackling one of the main mountain ‘F’ roads that crosses the interior of Iceland, I decided to visit Hveravellir, a very beautiful place of thermal springs and bubbling fumaroles.

Hot Springs, Hveravellir48mm f/11 1/200 sec. ISO-50

A fumarole is a small hole or vent in Earth’s surface through which volcanic gases escape from underground. Fumaroles are also known as steam vents because the most common gas they emit is water vapor or steam.Fumaroles have little water in their system unlike other types of hot springs. What does enter the system is boiled away before it reaches the surface. This leaves only steam and small amounts of gas such as hydrogen sulfide (already mentioned) and sulfur dioxide (the initial biting aroma of a lit match). Sometimes as the sulfur dioxide cools when it escapes from the vent, the sulfur in the vapor crystallizes around the vent, forming yellow deposits. The temperature of the gases emitted from a fumarole may reach as high as 750°F (400°C).

SpacerFumarole, Hveravellir, Iceland70mm f/10 1/160 sec. ISO-50

I spent a very happy couple of hours surrounding by boiling springs and hissing fumaroles as I marvelled at the fact that the Earth’s crust is typically between 30 and 50,000 metres (20 to 30 miles) around the world while in Iceland, it’s a mere 6 or 7,000 metres.

The colours at Hveravellir are mind-blowing.  The blues, you feel you just want to dive into the colours they are so vivid.  Probably not a good idea as the water is a boiling point of course.

This area of Iceland is known as the badlands where convicts were banished to.  There are stories, that to survive, these convicts rustled sheep and boiled the meat in these springs.

Hot Springs, Hveravellir24mm f/10 1/640 sec. ISO-50

SpacerDSC_7731Afr50mm f/11 1/250 sec. ISO-50

SpacerDSC_7919Afr48mm f/11 1/250 sec. ISO-50

SpacerHot Springs, Hveravellir, Iceland24mm f/10 1/250 sec. ISO-50

SpacerHot Springs, Hveravellir, Iceland24mm f/11 1/100 sec. ISO-50

SpacerAdrian Theze Photo logo_2Spacer

80 responses

  1. Awesome! Beautiful landscapes!

    July 5, 2015 at 6:25 pm

    • Thank you Reinhold, it is indeed a beautiful place!

      July 5, 2015 at 6:41 pm

  2. Looks a lot like Yellowstone. Great shots.

    July 5, 2015 at 6:38 pm

    • Thanks Emilio! I guess it would be similar. I’ve wanted to visit Yellowstone for a long time for the reasons I enjoyed this so much. It just brings it home to you how our planet is not even half-baked yet! Still very gooey and rather hot in the middle:-)

      July 5, 2015 at 6:43 pm

  3. Thank you for sharing so much interesting information together with your fantastic pictures. I didn’t know that the crust on Iceland was so relatively thin. The inhabitants must be prepared for extreme condition concerning weather and the force of nature.
    Thank you for the tour :-)
    All the best,

    July 5, 2015 at 6:58 pm

    • I’m so glad you found this post interesting Hanna! Thank you very much for your comment! :-)

      July 5, 2015 at 9:59 pm

  4. Magnificient photography

    July 5, 2015 at 7:09 pm

    • Thank you ever so much Lou! :-)

      July 5, 2015 at 9:59 pm

  5. Black Lightness

    Awesome photos! Beautiful landscapes! Your photos inspire me for trying to make better photos…

    July 5, 2015 at 7:21 pm

    • Thank you so much! That’s a lovely compliment!

      July 5, 2015 at 10:05 pm

  6. Wow ! That’s magnificent !!

    July 5, 2015 at 7:34 pm

    • It’s an amazing place to visit Mathias, thank you!

      July 5, 2015 at 10:05 pm

  7. Sue

    Wow! Stunning images, Adrian :)

    July 5, 2015 at 8:04 pm

    • Thank you very much Sue! Once again, we were very lucky with the weather! :-)

      July 5, 2015 at 10:10 pm

  8. Wonderful photos. You were truly blessed to be able to visit Icelend. :-)

    July 5, 2015 at 9:10 pm

    • Thank you Frank. It has been absolutely wonderful to be able to visit Iceland and to see all the different seasons. I have now been there in autumn, winter, spring and summer and will be back again in the autumn. Just two and a half hours away from the UK but it’s a different world.

      July 5, 2015 at 10:16 pm

  9. Great set; thanks!

    July 5, 2015 at 9:14 pm

    • Thank you Harrie! Glad you enjoyed them!

      July 5, 2015 at 10:16 pm

  10. So fascinating, and wonderful photography. Really beautiful, again!

    July 5, 2015 at 9:21 pm

    • Thank you Bente! The geology of Iceland is fascinating. An island straddling two continental plates that are slowly moving apart means that Iceland just keeps getting bigger. It’s particularly interesting as new land is formed to see it being populated by plants, soil being created over lava to support mosses and grasses, just as the world was when it was first forming. :-)

      July 5, 2015 at 10:39 pm

  11. Gorgeous, gorgeous colors! Thanks for explaining a little of what goes on up there; I too didn’t know about the thinner crust. I love the last photo, and the 4th, 5th and 6th ones. It’s a very different experience, looking at these images on a computer screen indoors, compared to being there amidst the sounds and smells. I always think about that with waterfalls, where the sounds is such a big part of the experience – and maybe some negatively charged ions or something, too. It makes me think the photographer has to work extra hard to create an image worthy of the scene. And the 4th photo, for example, has this slight distortion (it seems) that really makes it compelling, just as the scene must have been so compelling when you were there.

    July 5, 2015 at 10:32 pm

    • Thank you Lynn! I did sit for quite a while just watching these various springs and fumaroles. The Icelanders have given them all names which I found rather endearing. I came away feeling very relaxed and happy. It felt like a very positive place to be. A place where one can really connect with the elemental power that makes our earth what it is. It is a very sensory experience as you point out. The steam wafts constantly, you can feel the heat and the moisture, the smells and of course the sounds as the springs gurgle and the fumaroles spit. :-)

      July 6, 2015 at 7:40 am

      • How interesting that you came away relaxed and happy, and the fumaroles have names. Multi sensory – that’s making me want to go even more! Not the hop, skip and jump from here that it is for you though.

        July 12, 2015 at 11:27 pm

      • Not it’s quite a trek for you from the far west I guess Lynn. Definitely worth the visit though I think. I know that you’d enjoy it immensely. Hveravellir was a smashing place. A really nice atmosphere and sitting listening to the earth gurgling and hissing steam made me happy for some reason. Strangely reassuring to have all this energy beneath our feet.

        July 13, 2015 at 9:03 am

  12. I too was reminded of Yellowstone, another place I want to visit. Your photos are so good Adrian, maybe I just need to visit Iceland.

    July 5, 2015 at 10:43 pm

    • Thank you Jude! I think you’d have a very enjoyable time if you did visit! :-)

      July 6, 2015 at 7:34 am

  13. Great series ~ fire & ice indeed, what incredible landscapes you have seen (and now I also have Pat Benatar’s song running through my head which is an added bonus!).

    July 6, 2015 at 12:24 am

    • Thank you Randall. I feel very privileged to have been able to visit and been treated to some really good weather all in all.

      July 6, 2015 at 7:48 am

  14. Gagandeep Singh


    July 6, 2015 at 4:32 am

    • Thank you Gagandeep! :-)

      July 6, 2015 at 7:48 am

  15. Lucky you to get to see these wonders. Lucky us to see the images you bring back! ;)

    July 6, 2015 at 5:15 am

    • I really am Gunta! Thank you! :-)

      July 6, 2015 at 7:49 am

  16. I will have my first trip to Iceland in September next year! A long time to wait, but your blog will keep me going. Super.

    July 6, 2015 at 7:02 am

    • Thank you Rachel. September is a good time to visit! You’ll enjoy your visit I’m sure! :-)

      July 6, 2015 at 7:50 am

  17. So in love with the pictures. Thanks :-)

    July 6, 2015 at 7:12 am

    • Thank you Elisya! :-)

      July 6, 2015 at 7:54 am

  18. And there’s more….what incredible landscapes ….just love the textures and the colours just beautiful! ! : ))

    July 6, 2015 at 8:03 am

    • Thank you Therese! I really enjoyed Hveravellir. I’d go back again and again. Perhaps next time, I’ll try the hot spring that is safe to bathe in.. :-)

      July 6, 2015 at 8:11 am

  19. themonkseal

    Reblogged this on themonkseal.

    July 6, 2015 at 11:28 am

  20. Twoje krajobrazy zawsze mnie zachwycają są fantastyczne

    July 6, 2015 at 1:22 pm

    • Twoje komentarze są zawsze tak miło, dziękuję :-)

      July 6, 2015 at 1:49 pm

  21. Iceland is the most interesting, fantastic, amazing and beautiful place that I’ve ever visited.

    July 6, 2015 at 1:24 pm

    • Me too Cardinal!

      July 6, 2015 at 1:50 pm

  22. So very beautiful, Adrian…stunning features, too, of this old rock we call “home.”

    July 6, 2015 at 1:31 pm

    • Thank you very much Scott! It is a fascinating place.

      July 6, 2015 at 1:50 pm

      • You’re most welcome…and I can see that it is. :)

        July 8, 2015 at 1:39 pm

  23. Ah, but you bring your fire with you, in your desire to translate the majesty of the landscape to the two dimensional media. Beautiful pictures.

    July 6, 2015 at 3:06 pm

    • Such a lovely comment Shimon, thank you so much!

      July 6, 2015 at 5:05 pm

  24. You can almost smell the sulphur in these shots….:0)

    July 6, 2015 at 4:42 pm

    • Thank you Mark, the air was pretty pungent! :-)

      July 6, 2015 at 5:04 pm

  25. Stunning images, Adrian. Oh, those blues are just so…………blue. :) Interesting info about the convicts and those unfortunate sheep. 8O

    July 7, 2015 at 1:28 am

    • Thank you Sylvia! Very unfortunate sheep indeed!

      July 7, 2015 at 7:44 am

  26. Incredible landscapes Adrian.

    July 7, 2015 at 4:02 am

    • Thank you Edith. Iceland makes it all very easy! :-)

      July 7, 2015 at 7:44 am

  27. Stunning! The raw power of the Earth :-)

    July 7, 2015 at 9:19 pm

    • Thank you Sarah. Good to hear from you. I hope all is well. Hveravellir was well worth the visit. :-)

      July 7, 2015 at 9:28 pm

      • Apart from tired I’m fabulous! Simon and I finally tied the knot in Greece :-) Just getting back into the swing of blogging after the break.

        July 7, 2015 at 9:40 pm

      • Congratulations Sarah! I’m so pleased for you! :-)

        July 8, 2015 at 9:04 am

      • Thank you :-) I’m a very happy bunny!!

        July 8, 2015 at 11:33 am

      • :-)

        July 8, 2015 at 11:40 am

  28. The colors are so amazing in these Adrian. Would love to see if Poppy painted any of them!

    July 8, 2015 at 2:13 am

    • The colours are quite stunning Tina! I don’t think Poppy has visited Hveravellir as yet. I can imagine if she did these springs and fumaroles would make a great subject.

      July 8, 2015 at 9:06 am

  29. As always you have captured some gorgeous images. The colours and the light is amazing.

    July 8, 2015 at 6:20 pm

    • Thank you very much Otto! :-)

      July 10, 2015 at 10:27 am

  30. Both fascinating and rich in beauty. Fantastic images!

    July 9, 2015 at 8:41 pm

    • Thank you so much Elena! :-)

      July 10, 2015 at 10:27 am

  31. It is all so hauntingly beautiful. There is something about the north, the north of anywhere, that touches my soul. Great shots, Adrian.

    July 10, 2015 at 3:33 pm

    • Thank you so much Lynne! :-)

      July 10, 2015 at 3:44 pm

  32. Wonderful images Adrian. This is a side of Iceland most of us don’t normally see.

    July 11, 2015 at 1:47 pm

    • Thank you very much Jim. Hveravellir is well off the beaten track and only accessible at certain time of year. I think it’s a place well worth visiting. I really enjoyed it.

      July 11, 2015 at 6:42 pm

  33. loved this and gorgeous colors :)

    July 11, 2015 at 4:27 pm

    • Thank you once again Joshi! :-)

      July 11, 2015 at 6:42 pm

  34. Such beautiful images! Thanks for sharing, Adrian, Iceland has a special place in my heart so I really enjoy these. :)

    July 12, 2015 at 6:04 pm

    • Thank you! Iceland is such a magical place, the country is bound to get under your skin if you let it. :-)

      July 13, 2015 at 8:57 am

  35. Beautiful Adrian; I especially like the low contrast on your leading image.

    July 15, 2015 at 2:48 pm

    • Thank you very much John!

      July 15, 2015 at 3:30 pm

  36. In addition to Yellowstone and Iceland, the third place known for its geothermal formations is New Zealand, which I was fortunate to visit in February, and which your photographs therefore remind me of. Neither Yellowstone nor New Zealand is close to Cornwall, but I hope you manage to make it to both of them someday.

    July 18, 2015 at 2:30 pm

    • I hope that I do too. Thank you Steve!

      July 18, 2015 at 2:55 pm

  37. A beautiful gallery show-casing the extraordinary landscapes of Iceland

    July 19, 2015 at 8:47 am

    • Thank you very much Andy! The landscapes are certainly extraordinary. These volcanic areas fascinate me. Feeling the power within the earth so close to the surface is quite something.

      July 19, 2015 at 11:56 am