Vatnsdalsholar, Iceland

June 14, 2012

Landslide site iceland copy

Photographer: Stu Witmer
Summary Author: Stu Witmer

Iceland’s Vatnsdalur (Lake Valley) is an excellent example of the formation of a particular landscape. Seen in the center of the photo above, Vatnsdalsfjall (Lake Valley Mountain - 1,834 ft or 559 m) has been the scene of several cataclysmic rockslides. Over 7,000 years ago a huge slide tore away a chunk of the mountainside. This slide was so immense that, to this day, the mountain appears to have a monstrous bite taken out of it. The rocks plummeted down the mountainside at such speed that they splashed, like waves in a bathtub, about 230 ft (70 m) up the other side of the valley leaving debris over an area of about 6 sq mi (15 km2). Some of this debris remains as the Vatnsdalsholar (Lake Valley Hills) clumped about the valley floor (see inset). MoundsThere are so many of them that they are said to be uncountable. In 1545 another, smaller, slide crushed a valley farm killing 14 people.  A third rock avalanche struck in 1720 damming the valley’s river (Vatnsdalsa) and forming the lake, Flodid, seen above. In addition to these geological sights, there is prime salmon fishing to be had in the Vatnsdalsa. The area is one of the earliest settled in Iceland and the tale of these settlers of the 10th and 11th centuries is told in the Vatnsdaela Saga. A panorama of the landscape can be viewed here. Photos taken September 12, 2011.

Photo details: Top - Camera Maker: Canon; Camera Model: Canon PowerShot SD1300 IS; Focal Length: 5mm; Aperture: f/8.0; Exposure Time: 0.010 s (1/100); ISO equiv: 160; Exposure Bias: none; Metering Mode: Matrix; White Balance: Auto; Flash Fired: No (enforced); Orientation: Normal; Color Space: sRGB; Software: GIMP 2. Inset - Same except ISO equiv: 80.