A man standing in a gorge with green river and giant basalt column walls

Iceland is a dreamscape for geologists and nature lovers, shaped by the alchemy of fire and ice

Nature's Alchemy: Exploring Icelands Geosites

Iceland is a geologist’s and nature lovers' dreamscape—a rugged island where the forces of nature conspire to paint a breathtaking portrait of the Earth’s raw power. From active volcanoes to phenomenal glaciers, the country is rich in features that tell the tale of the Earth's history.

This guide will introduce five hand-picked geosites in each region of Iceland, that reflect diverse aspects of Icelandic geology, on both large and small scales. We have chosen places that are reasonably accessible to most people and easy to find and reach.

Crust Factory Iceland: Why this island exists in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean

Iceland is one of the planet's most active volcanic zones, with eruptions occurring every 4 years on average for the past 100 years and sometimes even once a month, as has been the case on the Reykjanes Peninsula recently. The island owes its existence to the interaction between tectonic forces at the boundary of the North American and Eurasian plates and the powerful Iceland Mantle Plume. So how does this work? The island is gradually being pulled apart by tectonic forces, allowing new crust to form continuously as magma rises to fill the space between the separating plates. The Mantle Plume contributes by bringing heat from deep within the earth, helping lift the crust above sea level and also producing more magma. Without the influence of the Mantle Plume, Iceland would likely be submerged along with the rest of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

So put the compass around your neck, your boots on and enjoy these geosites in different regions of Iceland!

Explore Geosites In Iceland

Reykjavík On The Rocks

Fancy rocks over shops? Explore the Capital Region through five geology sites.

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A vast golden-red sand beach

Fjords, falls and famous red beach

Here, we present 5 hand-picked geosites that give a glimpse into the Westfjord's geologic histo...

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Nature's Gems in East Iceland

Five geosites that show Iceland's true colors.

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Visit Rumbling Reykjanes

Five hand-picked geosites in the hottest place on the planet!

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Build It Up and Tear It Down! The Interplay between Fire and Ice Creates Magical Landscapes

Iceland’s landscape is a dynamic interplay between the forces of construction and deconstruction, further nuanced by the relics of the last Ice Age. As the island’s fiery volcanoes and shifting tectonic plates build up the terrain, glaciers, rivers, and oceans actively sculpt and erode these geological artworks with the help of freezing and thawing mechanisms and precipitation. Together these forces ensure that Iceland’s extraordinary landscape is an ongoing symphony of creation, transformation, and history.

For those who want to dive deeper you find sources, maps and recommended reads below.

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Geology map of Iceland from the Icelandic Institute of Natural History. You will find a link to the interactive map with legends below.

Sources Maps and Recommended Reads:

Below are some useful links and sources for those who want to dive deeper into Iceland's geology.

Online Interactive Maps:

Map of Iceland

Geology Map from the Icelandic Institute of Natural History

Geology Map from Iceland GeoSurvey

Field Guides on Iceland's Geology

Classic Geology In Europe 3: Iceland by Thor Thordarson and Armann Gudmundsson

Exploring Iceland's Geology by Snæbjörn Guðmundsson

Earthquake And Volcano Monitoring Info

Catalogue of Icelandic Volcanoes - Detailed information on Icelandic volcanoes and their status

Official and Reviewed Earthquake Data

Earthquakes and GPS monitoring - (sampling website of unreviewed data)

Get inspired

Nature's Alchemy: Exploring Iceland's geosites