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Iceland’s Mesmerizing Strokkur Geyser

The Haukadalur Valley is home to many typical Icelandic geothermal features, including the magnificent Strokkur Geyser. Millions of visitors visit the geyser every year to see one of nature's most spectacular sights.

3 mins read

Although geysers are a worldwide phenomenon, the English word actually originates from the Icelandic language and literally means “to gush.” Iceland has some of the most prolific geyser activity in the world, and, teamed with its naturally beautiful backdrops, Strokkur Geyser is hard to beat.

What’s a geyser?

Geysers are a rare geological feature present in only a few locations around the world. Iceland, known for its hydrogeological activity, is lucky enough to have many examples of this beautiful natural phenomenon.

The magic of a geyser is created when surface water is heated by bubbling magma that lies beneath the earth’s surface. The boiling water becomes highly pressurized and is forced toward the surface through porous rock, where it erupts with magnificent results. The water below Strokkur Geyser’s surface reaches around 250°F before rising to the surface and shooting skyward.

A short history of Strokkur Geyser

Despite Iceland's long history of volcanic activity, the first known eruption of Strokkur Geyser wasn't until 1789. Older records, however, can be unreliable, and it's almost certain that Strokkur was also active in the more distant, undocumented past. A gargantuan earthquake in the 1780s is suspected of having cleared the conduits of the geyser below the surface, allowing water to flow freely and visitors to behold this naturally occurring sight more regularly.

Through the nineteenth century, Strokkur Geyser erupted frequently and with magnificent force, reaching up to 196 feet high. A huge earthquake at the turn of the twentieth century once again blocked the water channels, and the geyser was dormant until humans intervened in 1963. On the scientific community’s advice, the local government manually unblocked the geyser, and it's been happily erupting every five to ten minutes since, delighting locals and tourists alike.

How often does Strokkur erupt?

The geyser’s regular eruption means that visitors are never disappointed. When it erupts, the geyser provides quite the spectacle for those who journeyed to this impressive part of the world.

Although the spurts look very impressive, the volume of water less than you might think. The geyser expels round 2.6 quarts per second — just a fraction compared to other geysers in Iceland and around the world. The water is propelled from below the earth's surface at roughly 37 miles per hour, and it's this speed, rather than the volume, that creates the illusion of a powerful water jet.

Having delighted visitors for decades, Iceland's most renowned geyser shows no signs of slowing down. These regular eruptions are expected to continue for many years into the future.

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Penguins perched on the ice of Cuverville Island, Antarctica. Credit: Espen Mills / HX Hurtigruten Expeditions

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