Mid-ocean ridges on the ocean floor encircle the globe like the seams of a baseball. Along their more than 40,000 mile length, magma seeps upward, building chains of underwater mountains and pushing continental land masses riding on massive tectonic plates further apart.
Iceland is one of the few places on earth at which one can see the evidence of this activity, as the entire island sits right on the mid-Atlantic ridge and was formed from the volcanic activity at that site over the past 24 million years.
What an unusual sight this area is, as land mass is added to Iceland at a rate of about 2.5 cm (one inch) per year. The land here forms crumpled and jagged cliffs of rock surrounding flatter rift valleys.
The grounds at Þingvellir (Thingvellir) National Park were a sacred spot for the Norse and Celtic people that settled the island in ninth century AD.
Thousands of people attended these annual gatherings, to participate in the parliament as well as the trade of various goods. Temporary homes were constructed, but no permanent buildings were erected on the site.
There are a few birds, but most of them rely on lake or lakeshore habitat instead of barren lava fields for food and nest sites.
Icy cold water that trickles into the lake seems to be the perfect habitat for growing king-sized brown trout that weigh up to 30 pounds, and Arctic char found open niches in the lake’s varied aquatic habitat, allowing them to split into six different species during the past 10,000 years. Great news for fishermen everywhere that come to fish here and in the many fresh-water streams throughout the island that attract salmon on migration.