Vellir (Árhver) – geyser in the river
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.
Map of the site
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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 constantly boiling water.
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.
Nowadays Vellir erupts only if soapy 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.
- Dirk Niemann, Deildartunga / Reykholt, Volcanic Springs. Accessed on May 28, 2019.
- 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) is included in the following article:
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Hasty hydrogeologists would say: geysers are thermodynamically and hydrodynamically unstable hot springs. “Normal” people would say – geysers are hot springs that 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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