Seltún Geothermal Area Travel Guide
Seltún Geothermal Area is but one part of the much larger geothermal area, Krýsuvík, located on the Reykjanes Peninsula, Iceland.
Explore this area while on a self drive tour in Iceland.
Photo above from Wikimedia, Creative Commons, by Ainars Brūvelis. No edits made.
Visitors to Seltún will be taken aback by how much the area resembles a lunar landscape. With red, somewhat otherworldly gravel and steaming vents, the site is dotted with bubbling pools of mud, fumaroles and hot springs. There are well-maintained wooden walkways around the springs from where you can observe, with several educational signs about the geothermal effects at work here.
The sediments brought up by such hots pools range in colour from red, orange and green, creating a dazzling kaleidoscopic effect on the ground and surrounding hills. The reason for this geothermal activity is because of Krýsuvík’s location in the middle of the fissure zone on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, which runs right across the Reykjanes Peninsula.
This ridge is the reason the entire region is so barren, covered in jagged, moss-coated lava and lined with volcanoes. It is also responsible for the other main geothermal areas, at Kleifarvatn lake and the Gunnuhver mud pool. It is possible to cross the ridge - and walk from North America to Europe - at the Bridge Between the Continents, although it should be noted that this is a metaphorical crossing; the tectonic plates are several kilometres apart.
The best place to truly see the edges of the tectonic plates is at Þingvellir National Park, a site of the Golden Circle sightseeing route.
The German scientist, Robert Bunsen, proposed his thesis on the formation of sulphuric acid after visiting the Seltún geothermal field in 1845. His early work on photochemistry and organoarsenic chemistry paved the way for scholars after him, as did his principled positions on not taking out patents. As can be gathered from his name, he was one of the inventors of the Bunsen Burner.