Vellir (Árhver) – geyser in the river

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Vellir or Árhver - geyser in the river
Vellir or Árhver - geyser in the river. / Bromr, / CC BY-SA 3.0
One of the weirdest geysers is Vellir or Árhver in the western Iceland. This hot spring has formed a cone right in the middle of a river. Just a peaceful, common river… with a geyser in the middle.

Hot springs in the river

Vellir is located in Reykholt geothermal area which includes also the spectacular Deildartunga geysers and hot springs nearby.

The thermal springs have formed in a place where a tectonic fault crosses the Reykjadalsá River. Here are some 6 – 8 thermal springs on sand flats and sometimes can be felt also some hot jets rising from the bottom of the river. The name of the river means “river of the misty valley” – and near the hot springs there indeed rise fumes from Reykjadalsá.

Vellir or Árhver (“hot spring of the river”) has formed a cone of cemented clay and gravel which rises almost 2 m above the stream. On this cone are located several vents but one is more active, with a constantly boiling water.

Vellir or Árhver in March 2005
Vellir or Árhver in March 2005. / Reykholt, / CC BY-SA 3.0

The diameter of the spring basin is approximately 1 m. The temperature of the water is around 100 °C, the output of the spring – 10 – 15 liters per second.

Vellir geyser

Nowadays Vellir erupts only if soap water is added to the spring. Then it erupts up to 2 meters high.

Earlier this was a well-known geyser. It erupted up to 1.5 m high in the late 19th century. After an earthquake in 1896, the height of Vellir increased to a maximum height of 11 m. Two years later though everything was as before and the geyser had its previous power.

In later decades Vellir geyser gradually calmed down and now is dormant.

References

  1. Dirk Niemann, Deildartunga / Reykholt, Volcanic Springs. Accessed on May 28, 2019.
  2. Professor, Dr. phil. Th. Thoroddsen, Geografiske og geologiske Undersøgelser ved den sydlige Del af Faxaflöi paa Island, Geografisk Tidsskrift, Bind 17 (1903 – 1904). Accessed on May 28, 2019.

Vellir (Árhver) on the map

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Vellir (Árhver) 64.658492, -21.363840 Vellir (Árhver)
Location, GPS coordinates:64.6585 N 21.3638 W
Categories:Thermal springs, Geysers
Values:Geology, Visual
Rating:2.5 out of 5 stars (2.5 / 5)
Where is located?Europe, Iceland, Western Region (Vesturland), some 4 km west from Reykholt, in Reykjadalsá river
Alternate names:Árhver, Vellineshver, Vellindishver, Vellandishver
Height:dormant, when “soaped” – up to 2 m

Video of Vellir (Árhver)


Regína Ragnarsdóttir, February 2017

Landmarks of Iceland

Gullfoss, Iceland
Gullfoss / WoSie, Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-2.5.
Iceland is very rich with peculiar natural landmarks and the island contains also interesting cultural landmarks. The highlights of Iceland are the magnificent waterfalls as well as geysers and other geothermal features.

Geysers

Geysir and Strokkur erupting simultaneously, June 1984
Geysir and Strokkur erupting simultaneously, June 1984 / Roger Goodman, Flickr.CC BY-SA 2.0.
Hasty hydrogeologist would say: geysers are thermodynamically and hydrodynamically unstable hot springs. “Normal” people would say – geysers are hot springs which at more or less regular intervals shoot up a fountain of boiling water and steam. Sometimes these fountains are even 100 m tall… or even 450 m!

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