When people heard
that my husband and I were traveling to Iceland,
they would invariably ask,
"Are you going to the Blue Lagoon?"
The Blue Lagoon, Iceland
Aurora, Paris, London, and Reykjavik,
the question was the same,
"You are going to the Blue Lagoon, aren't you?"
Lagoon Waters Lapping Against Pahoehoe Lava
because I couldn't remember any Blue Lagoon
from when I had studied Iceland's geology
back in my Early Precambrian.
Yours Truly at the Blue Lagoon
And then I thought maybe I shouldn't go
with all the hype I was hearing ~
It was probably some expensive tourist trap.
But then I remembered that story
in my grade two reader
about the Icelandic family that went for a picnic
and boiled eggs in a hot spring for lunch.
That second grade moment ~
in my one room school
surrounded by autumn pastures
in staid Alymer, Ontario ~
when I realized
that water hot enough to cook eggs
could bubble out of the Earth!
I swore then I would go to mysterious Iceland
to see such a thing.
Maybe even cook a hard-boiled egg.
The Ever-Patient Terry explores an alien landscape.
I couldn't deny my seven year old self.
I had to go to the Blue Lagoon.
Getting there is easy.
Buses and tour operators converge on the Blue Lagoon,
funneling through the Keflavik and Reykjavik roads
to lava-lined Route 43
to deliver people from all over the world.
Heading for the Blue Lagoon
Along Route 43 to Grindavik
The E-P checks a map on the walk to the Blue Lagoon.
Now endless vistas of lava might sound boring to some people,
but not if you understand the story behind them
(and, maybe, are passionate about rocks like I am!)
In a controversial nutshell ~
Iceland exists because the linear Mid-Atlantic Ridge
and the circular Iceland Hotspot interact.
Hot mantle material upwells in the ridge,
and a hotspot powered by a mantle plume
lifts the MAR above the surface of the ocean
to form the island of Iceland.
See those fat purple lines in the map above?
Iceland is literally ripping apart
along those lines or rift zones
where the spreading Mid-Atlantic Ridge
is driving the North American and Eurasian plates apart.
Just below you'll see Terry walking
along the edge of the North American Plate
at Thingvellir, an excellent place to see it.
Thingvellir (Þingvellir) also happens to be the site
where an independent Iceland's Althing (Alþingi)
or Parliament met for over 800 years.
The Ever-Patient Terry
The edge of the North American Plate is on the right side of the photo.
And here am I touching
the edge of the North American Plate.
Need I say this was a wildly important Bucket Item?
All this tectonic activity makes Iceland
one of the most geologically active places in the world.
And it is this activity
that makes a place like the Blue Lagoon possible.
The Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon is actually a man-made feature.
Svartsengi, a heat and electric power plant
adjacent to the Blue Lagoon,
taps geothermal energy to run its turbines
and provide heat for Icelandic homes.
Svartsengi draws a super-heated, mineral-rich fluid
comprised of seawater and groundwater
from wells drilled a mile or more (up to 2,000 meters)
into the geothermal reservoir.
This water has been heated
to 392-464ºF or 200-240ºC
by contact with cooling magma.
The hot fluid runs turbines to produce electricity
and then goes through a heat exchanger
to provide heat for homes.
From the beginning of Svartsengi's operation,
the waste geothermal fluid was released
into the surrounding landscape of porous lava flows.
Minerals in the geothermal fluid
formed a white silica mud that gummed up
the pores in the lava and formed impermeable layers
allowing the waters to accumulate in ponds.
It didn't take Icelanders too long
to discover that the lovely, warm, milky blue ponds
helped heal psoriasis patients,
and the Blue Lagoon was on the map.
When I soaked in its healing waters,
it was special fun for me,
because I knew that
the North American and Eurasian
plate boundaries meet at the Blue Lagoon.
So yes, we went to the Blue Lagoon
and joined others having a blast
in its warm, anti-aging waters.
Darn! I forgot to boil an egg!
Looks like the E-P