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The many other colors of Iceland

Do you know what a fumarole is?  Or a mud pot? (Hint: it’s not a child’s sandbox after a downpour.)  Do you know how the English language got the word geyser?  Well, if you go to Iceland, you’ll get a crash course in geology, come across a lot of new words, and see terrain that looks as though it could just as well be on the moon.  Nothing average or ho-hum about it.

Námafjall is a high-temperature (dangerous: 80-100℃) geothermal area with fumaroles and mud pots.  Cold ground water seeps down to magma intrusions (Iceland is part of the volcanic “Ring of Fire”), where it is heated and transformed into steam and then comes back to the surface.  Along with the steam comes fumarole gas, which contains sulfur hydroxide responsible for that hot spring smell.  Sulphur deposits are formed when fumarole gas mixes with air.  Besides the sulphur deposits, a mixture of silica and gypsum forms around the fumaroles.  In mud pots, fumarole gas rises through surface water, producing sulphuric acid, which makes the water acid. Rock and soil dissolve in this acid water, producing the mud which bubbles up like the witches brew in Macbeth.  In the same geothermal area is Geysir, the original blasting hot (100℃) water spout after which all other geysers around the world are named.

And the colors are blue and brown, and sand and rust, and mustard and white, and charcoal and a kind of mauve. Nothing green at all.  So my first sketch…

Námafjall

Námafjall

captures some of that, as does my second painting of that area:

Icelandic Fumaroles

Icelandic Fumaroles

Though it’s an abstract, you’d be surprised how “realistic” Icelandic Fumaroles is.

Amazing country, Iceland.

Posted by ruthhurd on October 1, 2012

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