Saturday, September 3, 2011

Iceland: Jökulsárlón Iceberg Lagoon

Jökulsárlón (literally translated to Glacier Lagoon) is the largest glacier lagoon or lake in Iceland. It branches from the Vatnajökull glacier, the largest glacier in Europe, and evolved into a lagoon after the glacier started receding from the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. The lake has grown since then at varying rates because of melting of the Icelandic glaciers. The lagoon now stands 1.5 kilometers (0.93 mi) away from the ocean's edge and covers an area of about 18 km2 (6.9 sq miles). It is the deepest lake in Iceland at over 285 meters (935 ft) deep. It is considered as one of the natural wonders of Iceland.

The lagoon developed only about 60 years ago when the entire area was only 250 yards from the Atlantic Ocean, and 2 miles (3.2 km) away from Vatnajökull . Vatnajökull was at the shore line of the ocean and dropped icebergs into the ocean. However, it started drifting in land rapidly every year leaving deep gorges en route, which got filled with melted water and ice fragments the size of a truck. These icebergs gather at the mouth of the lagoon’s shallow exit, melt down into smaller ice cubes and roll out into the sea.

While floating, only about one tenth mass of an iceberg is seen above the water surface. These icebergs are seen in two shades, one type in milky white, while the other type is in bright blue color, which is an interplay of light and ice crystals. Black ash from the volcano Grímsvötn can be seen streaked through many of the icebergs.



Take a boat ride and sail among the huge icebergs - it is truly an amazing experience, even when it is raining sideways. The ice from the glacier is over 1000 years old and you might be lucky enough to taste a piece like we were! Seals are seen either swimming in the lagoon or lying on icebergs as you sail by.

After the boat ride, warm up with some fish stew in the visitor center, and then head across Highway 1 to the beach. Huge melting icebergs have washed ashore the black sand beach and you can try to scramble up their slippery surface. 


Jökulsárlón has also been a setting for four Hollywood movies namely, 'A View to a Kill', 'Die Another Day', 'Tomb Raider' and 'Batman Begins'.

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