26 April 2017

Pseudocraters at Lake Mývatn, Iceland

Posted by Callan Bentley

Check out this scene and tell me what you see:

The scene is near the southern end of Lake Mývatn, astride the Mid-Atlantic Rift in northern Iceland.

If you thought that looks a lot like a cinder cone, you’re thinking a lot like me! However, these aren’t really cinder cones in the sense of being volcanic vents. Instead, these features result from steam explosions that occurred after a basaltic lava flow advanced over soggy lake sediments. Squished and heated, the water flashed to vapor around 2300 years ago and blew holes through the overlying basalt, dragging chunks of basalt and lake sediments along with it. Like this:

It must have been an exciting thing to witness!

Here are few more views of the region:

And of course I made a GigaPan image (handheld). Here it is in both Flash-based and HTML5-based displays:

Link 0.20 Gpx Handheld GigaPan by Callan Bentley

A word of caution: this part of the lake is beset by enormous swarms of hideous large “midges.” We explored it looking like this:

Be forewarned: If you decide to visit the pseudocraters of Lake Mývatn, bring your head-net!