21 March 2013

Helicopter images of the Mid-Atlantic ridge in Iceland

Posted by Dave Petley

I am in the middle of a somewhat chaotic week of travel – Durham, London, Iceland, Durham, London, Padua, London, Brussels, London, Durham, all in a week.  However, this started with an amazing weekend, in which Michele and I went to Iceland to celebrate a significant birthday.  On the day that we arrived, in glorious weather, we chartered a helicopter to fly over the Mid-Atlantic rift and other sites on the so-called Golden Circle. This is a somewhat expensive thing to do, but the views were quite unbelievable and it was a once in a lifetime experience.  I thought I’d reproduce a few of the images here:

So first of all, this was our chariot – a Bell 407.  You will see that we also made a stop on a glacier en route:


We flew over, and indeed stopped to look around, Geysir, and we were lucky enough to be flying over the Strokkur geyser fas she blew:

We then flew over the rift itself at Pingvellir.  This a very impressive sight on the ground, but from the air you get a much better impression of the ways in which the rifting processes are operating:


The scarp on the edge of the lake is the main margin of the rift, but note the multiple fractures on the land side of the scarp.  This is much more evident a little further to the north, where it is possible to see multiple arrays of tension cracks running parallel to the main scarp:


The rift is also fantastic on the ground:


Iceland is an amazing place.  Go there if you have a chance.  In answer to a couple of queries, if you want to repeat our experience we flew with Heli.is, who were genuinely excellent.  I would recommend them – for the record I have no links with them at all.