Archive - Vatnsdalsholar, Iceland

June 10, 2018

Landslide site iceland copy

Each Sunday we present a notable item from our archives. This EPOD was originally published June 14, 2012.

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 on 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. Photos taken September 12, 2011.

Photo Details: Top - Camera  Canon PowerShot SD1300 IS; Focal Length: 5mm; Aperture: f/8.0; Exposure Time: 0.010 s (1/100); ISO equiv: 160; Software: GIMP 2. Inset - Same except ISO equiv: 80.