Information about Eldgjá

Eldgja Canyon is the largest volcanic canyon in the world.

Eldgjá is the largest volcanic canyon in the world, located in the south of Iceland.


  • Wikimedia, Creative Commons, Photo by Ilya Grigorik


At 270 metres at its deepest, 600 metres at its widest, and around 40 km long, Eldgjá covers a significant part of the country. It stretches from Landmannalaugar, a popular hot-spring and hiking area in the Icelandic Highlands, to Kirkjubæjarklaustur, a village with a long religious history on the South Coast.

First Eruption at Eldgja

Eldjá’s first recorded eruption in 939 was an incredibly powerful one. It produced the largest flood of basalt of all time; it is estimated that 18 kilometres cubed of lava was released, which spread over an area of around 800 square kilometres.

The effects at home and abroad were dramatic. In Iceland, which had only been settled for less than half a century, it was used by Christian forces to warn of the wrath of God against the pagan beliefs of the Old Norse. Documents from as far back as 961 AD confirm this, where its effects are exaggerated to Biblical proportions.

Of course, the eruption would have devastated growing agriculture at the time, as well as decimated the forests surrounding it. Iceland was actually very forested at this time,  but eruptions like this one, and the mini-Ice Age that followed them, have left it one of the most barren countries on earth.

Further afield, it was even more impactful. Temperatures as far as Central Asia dropped two degrees, and the ash cloud made 940 AD the coolest summer in 1,500 years.

It is little wonder, therefore, why Eldgjá translates to ‘Fire Canyon’.

Sites At Eldgja

The canyon lies parallel with the Lakagígar craters, a major attraction in the Icelandic Highlands, which were formed in a similarly consequential eruption, called Laki, in 1783. Here, twenty-five dramatic craters sit in a row, surrounded by spectacular lava.

Another major attraction at Eldgjá is Ófærufoss, a beautiful, two-stream waterfall that can be hiked to. It flows from the river Ófærá.

 

Services near Eldgjá

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Attractions nearby Eldgjá

Uxatindar

Uxatindar is a mountain peak in the southern highlands which stands 642 metres above sea level. It is green with moss throughout summer and is ...

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Sveinstindur

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Strútslaug

Strutslaug (also known as Holmsarbotnalaug) is a geothermal pool in the South Highlands, north of Myrdalsjokull glacier and close to Torfajokull glaci...

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Lakagígar

Lakagígar is a row of spectacular craters along twenty-five kilometres in the southern Icelandic Highlands, formed in the eruptions at Lak&ia...

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Fagrifoss

Credit: Wikimedia, Creative Commons. Photo by Nave111. Fagrifoss (the Beautiful Waterfall) is located in southeast Iceland near the Lakagígar ...

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Ljótipollur

Ljótipollur is an explosion crater and crater lake in the south Highlands. Its name means ‘Ugly Puddle’, despite the fact it is a...

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Veiðivötn

Veiðivötn is an area of over 50 small fishing lakes, situated north-east of Friðland að Fjallabaki and Landmannalaugar. The ov...

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Landmannalaugar

Landmannalaugar, or the 'People's Pools', is a vast area of stunning and unique beauty in the heart of Iceland's southern Highlands....

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Bláhnjúkur

  Blahnjukur (a.k.a. Blahnukur) is a volcano in the area of Landmannalaugar, in the south highlands of Iceland.  Blahnjukur's name (&#...

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Frostastaðavatn

Frostastaðavatn is a lake in the southern region of the Highlands of Iceland. Its shores are accessible via the Highland routes of the F208 and ...

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Breiðbakur

Breidbakur, in the Icelandic highlands, is a mountain west of Langisjor lake and near Vatnajokull glacier. The scenery in this area is magnificent. ...

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Brennisteinsalda

  Brennisteinsalda (ca. 855 m) is a volcano in the area of Landmannalaugar National Park, in the south highlands of Iceland. Brennisteinsalda ...

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Fjallabak

Fjallabak may refer to Fjallabak Nature Reserve, or two highland routes, South Fjallabaksleið or the North Fjallbaksleið. The name 'Fjal...

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Dómadalur

  Domadalur is a valley east of Kringla (Landmannahellir cave) in the south of the Icelandic highlands. The valley has a little shallow lake a...

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Torfajökull

Torfajökull is the name of both a stratovolcano and a complex of subglacial volcanoes, north of Mýrdalsjökull glacier in South Icelan...

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Landmannaleið

Photo from Wikimedia, Creative Commons, by Pietro Landmannaleið, or the F225, is a highland road that leads to the Fjallabak Nature Reserve and t...

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Fjaðrárgljúfur

Fjaðrárgljúfur is a beautiful, dramatic canyon in South Iceland, close to the historic town of Kirkjubæjarklaustur. Fjað...

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Bláfjöll

Wikimedia, Creative Commons, photo by Reykholt The Blue Mountains, otherwise known as Bláfjöll, are a beautiful mountain range in the sou...

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Ofaerufoss

Ofaerufoss is a highly beautiful waterfall in the volcanic chasm Eldgja in Southeast Iceland. The Eldgja chasm, belongs to the same volcanic system as...

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Systrastapi

Systrastapi (“Sister’s Rock”) is a historical rock hill and natural attraction west of the village of Kirkjubæjarklaustur, in ...

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