The Great Geysir, Iceland - Unique Places Around the World

The Great Geysir has been intermittently active for about ten millennia.
The Great Geysir has been intermittently active for about ten millennia.

The Great Geysir is located in southeastern Iceland. The geyser was the first to be documented in printed material. It is thought to be the first geyser to be discover by Europeans. The word “geyser” was derived from “geysir.” The geyser lies in Haukadalur valley of the Laugarfjall hill. The geyser is not consistently active; it is known to fall dormant before abruptly waking up and spewing hot water 220 feet into the air.

History of Eruptions

The Great Geysir has been active for about ten millennia, the earliest accounts of the spring date back to the late 13th century. Researchers theorize that a series of earthquakes in the landscape resulted in several hot springs including the Geysir. In the mid-17th century, the geysers erupted so violently that the surrounding areas trembled. In the mid-19th century, Geysir erupted to a height of 560 feet. Earthquakes and tremors are known to revive the geyser whenever it falls dormant. In 1910 the geyser was active for only thirty minutes and in 1915, it erupted after every six hours. One year later the eruptions ceased. A man-made channel being constructed on the edge of the geyser vent in 1935 triggered an eruption. The channel became clogged with silica shutting down the eruptions. In 1981 the channel it was cleared and eruptions triggered by adding soap. Environmentalists raised concerns over the use of soap in the geyser, and the practice was stopped. In 2002, an earthquake triggered an eruption that spewed water to a height of 400 feet for two days.

Other Geysers in Iceland

The Geysir is not the only geyser in the location; there are several smaller geyser including Strokkur, Litli Geysir, and about thirty more. The Strokkur geyser erupts frequently and is barely affected by earthquakes. Sometimes it erupts to a height of 100 feet. Due to its frequent eruptions, misleading photos of the Strokkur are posted on the internet and postcards as those of the Great Geysir. The Geysir, along with the Gullfoss and Þingvellir waterfalls, form part of the Golden Circle.

Ownership of the Geysir

Before it was sold to Lord Craigavon (James Craig) in 1984, a local farmer owned the Geysir. James Craig was a renowned whiskey distiller and later rose to become the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland. The land was passed over to a series of relatives and friends until Sigurður Jónasson, a film director, donated it to the public in 1935.


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