South Coast Landscapes

South Coast Landscapes

Seljalandsfoss

Fed by meltwater from Eyjafjallajökull, the Seljalandsá River plummets 65m over basalt cliffs. You will see many waterfalls as you travel around Iceland, but what makes Seljalandsfoss a unique experience is that it’s the only one of its kind in Iceland that you can walk behind and look out through its tumbling waters to the blurred landscape beyond.

Geological change is apparent and the line of relic sea cliffs, former sea cave and river terraces along the discharge river help to exemplify the process of isostatic rebound.

Many sites are becoming even more popular and the potential negative impact of this is alarming – the very beauty and tranquillity that people are coming to enjoy could be significantly impaired. Students can evaluate this particular topic while marvelling at one of Iceland’s best known and simply enchanting waterfalls.

Eyjafjallajökull Erupts

Although traumatic and frightening at the time, the Eyjafjallajökull eruption wonderfully demonstrated the determination and resilience of Icelandic people, especially the farmers and their families below the mountain. The Visitors’ Centre displays information about both the Fimmvörðuháls (March/April 2010) and Eyjafjallajökull (April/May 2010) eruptions in a most striking way. However, the highlight of a visit here has to be the 20-minute film featuring both eruptions.

The film focuses on the experiences and emotions of the family living on Thorvaldseyri Farm, the farm directly below the volcano. It covers the timeline of events and shows the various impacts that the eruptions had on the landscapes and communities. You’ll be able to hear a pin drop as your students watch this totally absorbing film.

Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach

Not all beaches are golden! Near the village of Vík on the South Coast of Iceland lies Reynisfjara black basalt beach. Take a relaxing stroll along the pebbly beach and see the impressive basalt columns in all their glory. Created by the cooling of lava, these pipe-like columns are just another one of Iceland’s fascinating natural wonders. Encourage your students to feel the wonderfully polished pebbles in their fingers to really understand attrition. 

Solheimajökull

Solheimajökull is a large tongue of ice, flowing southwards off the Mýrdalsjökull ice cap in southern Iceland. Mýrdalsjökull is the fourth largest glacier in Iceland and hides one of the country’s most infamous volcanoes, Katla. The raw landscape surrounding the glacier is simply spectacular.

As you walk towards the snout you will be surrounded by piles of moraine and the recent retreat of the glacier will become apparent. This is an excellent experience and provides an insight into some of the characteristic processes and landforms of glaciation which students often find difficult to comprehend in a classroom setting. Standing at the towering snout, walking on huge mounds of moraine and gazing across the crevassed surface of the ice gives scale, helps to bring the processes to life and stimulates understanding. 

Skogafoss

Skógafoss is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland, with a wide curtain of water cascading from a height of 62m. To get close to the base of this waterfall, a short gorge has to be entered, illustrating very well how waterfalls erode headwards with time. Alternatively, ascend the metal steps that run up the side to the viewing platform and be met by a truly spectacular scene.

It may be possible to include some additional options into your day as you travel the Golden Circle (click to visit the individual pages):

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