Dormant since 1916 when it suddenly ceased to spout, the ‘Great Geysir’ (Stori-Geysir) has been One of the greatest natural attractions of Iceland and part of the famous “Golden Circle Tour“. Since 1916, it came to life only once in 1935, and as quickly went back to sleep. It is believed that Geysir came into existence around the end of the 13th century when a series of strong earthquakes, accompanied by a devastating eruption of Mt. Hekla, hit Haukadalur, the geothermal valley where Geysir is located. It spouted regularly every third hour or so up to the beginning of the 19th century and thereafter progressively at much longer intervals until it completely stopped in 1916: when still active, it could thunderously blast a spectacular jet of superheated water and steam into the air as high as 60 to 80 meters. Its opening is 18 meters wide and its chamber 20 meters deep.
One reason for cessation is believed to be the accumulated rocks and foreign objects thrown into it by thousands of tourists throughout the years: though definitely damaging, this however could not be the only reason for its dormancy. The Great Geysir was among the most notable geysers in the world, and the English word “geyser” is derived from the Icelandic word “geysir” which means gusher. Though the Great Geysir itself is now more or less inactive, the area surrounding it is geothermically very active: the attraction of the area is now ‘Strokkur’ (The Churn), another geyser 100 meters south of the Great Geysir, which erupts at regular intervals every 10 minutes or so and whose white column of boiling water can reach as high as 30 meters. The whole area is a geothermal park sitting on top of a vast boiling cauldron: belching sulphurous mud pots of unusual colors, hissing steam vents, hot and cold springs, warm streams, and primitive plants can all be found here. A short distance away to the west stands the small Laugarfjall Mountain with a panoramic view overlooking the Geysir area: King Christian IX of Denmark visited the area in 1874 and by the foot of the mountain are the rocks where he leaned, now called Konungssteinar (“The King’s Stones”).
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