Geysers and hot springs
Deildartunguhver is named after Deildartunga – nearby farm which has been mentioned already in the Icelandic medieval sources. This was valuable agricultural land long before the use of geothermal energy started. The fate of the legendary Snorri Sturluson (1179-1241) is linked to this site as well.
Deildartunguhver is located in Reykholt geothermal area. This area of thermal water includes one more unique landmark: the nearby Árhver geysers in the middle of a river.
Springs emanate at the foot of Hverahóll hill and have at least nine vents. The temperature of the water at the surface here is 95 – 97 °C. A little deeper it is above the boiling point.
Some of the spring vents behave as water spouters and even geysers. The most active ones can erupt up to 3 m high. In 1810 the geysers were taller – up to 4 m – as described by Scottish geologist Sir George S. Mackenzie.
Deildartunguhver almost continuously is shrouded in dense steam. Thus it is hard to find a moment to take a clear picture with the springs.
District heating system
In the 1970ies, during the oil crisis, a dire need for cheaper energy arose. As a result, a very ambitious project was realized around 1979: there was built a district heating system between Deildartunguhver and the coastal towns – Borgarnes and Akranes. Pipe to Akranes is 64 km long. Water at the end of this pipe still is very hot: 78 – 80 °C.
Later there were found other sources of geothermal energy nearer to the towns – but too late, the system was built and functional.
Thus, the visitors of the site can see how twisted can be the compromise between nature conservation and development. Deildartunguhver is a protected monument of nature. But, as the water appears above the ground and flows for some meters, nature conservation ends: water reaches a system of concrete gutters and disappears in pipes.
The only endemic plant in Iceland
These few meters of “freedom” though are very important. Around the hot springs grows a unique plant, which is found only here: the fern Struthiopteris fallax. In 2019 this small plant (2-5 cm long leaves) was confirmed to be a separate species. This is the only unique species of plants in Iceland.
One more important find is thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana) – the only find of this plant in Iceland.
- Dirk Niemann, Deildartunga / Reykholt, Volcanic Springs. Accessed on June 2, 2019.
- Sonia Molino, Jose M. Gabriel y Galán, Pawel Wasowicz, Pablo de la Fuente, Emily B. Sessa, The Struthiopteris spicant (Blechnaceae, Polypodiopsida) complex in Western Europe, with proposals for taxonomic and nomenclatural changes, Plant Systematics and Evolution (2019) 305:255–268. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00606-019-1565-0. Accessed on June 3, 2019.
Deildartunguhver on the map
|Location, GPS coordinates:||64.6636 N 21.4107 W|
|Categories:||Thermal springs, Geysers, Ecosystems|
|Rating:||(3 / 5)|
|Where is located?||Europe, Iceland, Western Region (Vesturland), some 7 km west from Reykholt, at Krauma Spa, in Reykholtsdalur valley|
|Alternate names:||Tunguhver (in older sources)|
|Height:||Up to 3 m|
|Average discharge:||180 l/s|
Video of Deildartunguhver
For 91 Days Travel Blog, September 2013
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