Almannagjá Ravine

Politically, Iceland is considered part of Europe. Geologically, though, it is a very different situation. Iceland sits atop the mid-Atlantic ridge. The ridge is a chain of volcanic mountains, mostly under the Atlantic Ocean that stretches most of the way between the North and South Poles. It is the dividing line between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. As the volcanos erupt, the lava causes the Atlantic Ocean to become wider, pushing North and South America westward and Europe and Africa eastward.
The Almannagjá Ravine is a crack or rift between the North American and Eurasian plates that is located in Þingvellir National Park It is a small part of the section of the mid-Atlantic ridge that runs northeast to southwest through Iceland. It geologically, marks the boundary between Europe and North America.
These images were taken in the Almannagjá Ravine. As you look at them, the walls to the left are in Europe and those on the right are in North America. For geology geeks like my wife and I, it is truly amazing to be able to stand on the mid-Atlantic ridge and to be able to walk between Europe and North America.
In 930, Iceland established its parliament in Þingvellir, near this location. Sessions were held there until 1800.

I hope you enjoy these images.

Regards,

Larry

Note: Click on caption to see images in higher resolution and larger size.

These and other images are available to purchase at my website www.earthwatcher.us or by contacting larry@earthwatcher.us

 

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An Adventure in Iceland, SEP 2017

When I close my eyes and picture Iceland, I think of coastal plains lying between the ocean and tall cliff sides. At some places, the plains are grass covered, at other places they are filled with jagged black lava. The cliff sides are impressively tall and massive. They are green with vegetation and filled with outcrops of volcanic basalt. All along the cliff sides, waterfalls appear at frequent intervals. Free range sheep, in small groups, dot the hillsides. Oceanside beaches are black from the volcanic rock and sand.

Glacier melt from the ice covered volcanic mountains creates many, many small streams. These streams drop in long thin ribbons of white from the cliffside. Where they hit the plain, they cut small streams that meander their way to the oceans. In September, the streams flow through gullies in their rocky beds. But, I am told, that in the spring the beds are full of raging water. The streams travel short distances so they don’t have time to merge into large rivers. Despite their size, the fall from glacier to ocean gives them a swift current.

 

The plains are used for ranching. A few ranchers have cattle but most raise sheep and horses. Icelandic wool products are sold throughout the country. Lamb is a staple; Icelandic meat soup is very good.

 

 

 

There are also many horses which are unique to Iceland. They are short, stalky beasts with long, shaggy mains and tails. There is little farming. In fact, we saw only one garden at a home behind a place where we stayed.

 

 

Iceland has a history of recent volcanic activity. So, the rocks are angular and jagged. They haven’t had time to weather into smoother surfaces. But, even in the lava fields, grasses and wildflowers grow between the rocks and gravel. Moss sometimes grows on the volcanic rock giving the lava fields a soft, velvety green color to contrast with its normal black, jagged features.

As you travel through Iceland, you get glimpses of the massive glaciers that cover many of the mountains. In a few spots, glacial tongues reach the valley floor. Where this occurs, you can see the blue icy edges of the glacier. At the edge, ice breaks loose and falls as icebergs into lagoons. In Jökulsárlón, the icebergs float down a short river and into the ocean where some flow back onto beach.

 

 

 

We got to spend precious few hours in the highlands (mountains). One visit took us across a rocky riverbed of gray-green volcanic rock into hills made of broken shards of shale. Shale is sedimentary rock meaning it formed under a calm lake or ocean. It is an anomaly in an otherwise volcanic landscape. A second trip took us to a high valley near one of the glaciers. The valley is reminiscent of those you might see in a medieval fantasy story. The path through the jagged rocks of the tall valley led uphill, next to a stream that cascades from the glacier. The atmosphere was cool and damp. The cliff side was covered with moss and wildflowers.

I’ll be publishing more images focused on different features. Iceland is a remarkably beautiful place. I look forward to visiting again.

 

 

 

Note: Click on caption to see images in a larger size.

These and other images are available for purchase on my website: www.earthwatcher.us or by contacting larry@earthwatcher.us

 

A Visit to Yosemite

A few weeks ago, we spent an evening and early morning at Yosemite. Water was running everywhere. The Merced River was a raging snake of whitewater. The granite cliffs of Yosemite are amazing anytime but, when they are covered with ribbons of water falling 3,000 feet, it is really amazing.

I hope you enjoy these images.

Regards,

Larry

Note: Click on caption to see image at larger size.

Arches National Park

We took a day on our road trip and spent it at Arches National Park. During an evening and a morning, you can see many of the main attractions but there is a lot to see that require short to moderate hikes. I hope to go back and spend a few days hiking.
The park is located over a geologically unstable salt bed. The movement of the salt bed and the earth’s tectonic forces caused large blocks of sandstone to uplift. Over millions of years, the sandstone eroded forming the arches and rock monoliths we see today. The park service claims more than 2,000 arches; some just a 3 foot opening through a mountain to the largest: 306 feet base to base. There are massive stone walls whose size, shapes and eroded faces bring pagan temples to mind. There were lots of wildflowers and some wildlife.

I left thinking that I’d like to spend time watching the sun, moon and stars rise and set over these geologic wonders. To me, it is a spiritual place. Our mistake was not giving ourselves the time to take in the spirit.

Please click on caption to see image at a larger size.
Regards,

Larry

These and other images are available for purchase by visiting www.earthwatcher.us or by contacting larry@earthwatcher.us.

Petrified Forest

On a recent road trip, we stopped by the Petrified Forest National Park. It was another of the amazing wonders that are our National Parks. Sitting among the beautiful desert landscape are remnants of trees that thrived 200 to 225 million years ago.  What we see today is not the tree itself, it is a fossil. The living cells have long since decayed and been replaced by silica, calcite, pyrite, or another inorganic material such as opal. What is fascinating is that the remains look like sections from a tree; including the bark.  The result is a stunning fossil rich in color.  The park is near Holbrook, AZ, not far off I-40. A casual tourist can get a good view of the park in a few hours. I am looking forward to returning for a few days to enjoy the trails and do some more photography.

I hope you enjoy these images. Please click on caption to see image in larger size.

These and other images are available for purchase on my website: www.earthwatcher.us or by contacting larry@earthwatcher.us

Great Basin Images

Image of Joshua Tree Forest in Nevada

Joshua Tree Forest

In October, 2015, Donna and I made a tour of the Great Basin area in Nevada.  I recently revisited the images I took during that trip and decided to get them ready to publish.  The first image is of a special Joshua Tree forest.  It is special because, over the mountains,behind the forest, lies Groom Lake, the fabled Area 51.  I wonder what you’d see if you were a bug on one of the trees.  The second image is of a rainstorm over the desert.  It is raining in the distance as crepuscular rays cast their beams over the desert landscape.  The third image is a rainbow over Death Valley.  I’ve published a version of this image before but wasn’t happy with it.  Now it’s back and will be one of the images featured in my show at ACAI Gallery and Studios beginning December 17.  The fourth image is one of Mesquite Dunes in Death Valley.  It too will be displayed in my show.

Image of rain and crepuscular rays over Nevada desert

Clouds, Sun and Rain

Image of a rainbow at sunrise over Death Valley

Wondrous Morning

Image of Sun Set Over Mesquite Dunes - Death Valley

Sun Setting Over Mesquite Dunes – Perspective 1