Lucie Debelkova -  Travel Photography - www.luciedebelkova.com

Iceland - Reykjanes - Gunnuhver - Iceland´s Larges Mud Pool at Dramatic Sunset

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Gunnuhver geothermal area is a field of steaming fumaroles and boiling mud pools. In the recent past some geysers existed here as well. As the tectonic plates move, new passages are constantly opening (and older ones are closing) for heated groundwater and gases. Gunnuhver is one such area. Here deeper below the surface the temperature of ground (and water in it) reaches 300° C. Much of groundwater comes from the nearby sea and is rich with chlorides and also with dissolved silica. As a result in the recent past hot springs and geysers have created sinter deposits - a hill named Kísilhóll (Kísilhóll, Silica hill). Today here are no hot water springs and geysers, but northeast from Kísilhóll are located many steam vents (fumaroles) and boiling mud pools. Mud pools are formed by acidic groundwater sources, which turn lava into clay. The largest mud pool in Iceland also is located here - it is 20 m across, boiling vigorously along its rims. Hot ground is an immense source of energy. In 2006 near Gunnuhver geothermal field started to operate the Reykjanes Geothermal Plant. As a result the steaming of the ground in the geothermal field increased.

The walkways here make it easy to watch your step, but they weren’t here 300 years ago when the troublesome ghost of Gudrún Önundardóttir—who gives her nickname ‘Gunna’ to this beautiful geothermal field—was tricked into taking hold of a charmed knotted-rope that led her across the field and into the big fumerole. Some say she didn’t fall in with the rope, but is stuck holding onto the end of it, and paces around the rim of the steamy abyss for all eternity. I can’t be sure, but it was uncanny how the steam shifted in the breeze but never cleared completely, as though veiling something, or someone… You need to tread carefully when wandering around the striking mud pools and fumaroles of Gunnuhver, close to the Reykjanes town of Grindavík.

The Gunnuhver geothermal field reopened in June 2010 after being closed for a couple of years due to instability—one of the dangers being that the high-pressured steam might suddenly find another outlet underneath the visitor walkway.

Camera Model: Canon EOS 5D Mark II; Lens: 24.00 - 105.00 mm; Focal length: 24.00 mm; Aperture: 4.0; Exposure time: 1/60 s; ISO: 100

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