Húsavíkurmisgengið Continental Rift

Continental rift north of Húsavík
Continental rift north of Húsavík

Most people coming to Iceland know about the continental rift at Þingvellir and the possibility to literally hop between continents. At Þingevllir national park the Eurasian and North American plates shift and drift apart in endless clashes. They are a continuation of the Mid-Atlantic ridge.

What most people do not know is that just a few hundred meters north of Húsavík it is possible to leave the North American plate and step actually into no man’s land until returning to the Eurasian plate again in the area east of the Tjörnes peninsula.

The Tjörnes rift zone is part of the North Atlantic Ridge and is known for high geothermal activity and regular and significant seismic activity, caused by energy being released as the tectonic plates drift in opposite directions from one another.

This figure shows the locations of the major deformation zones in Iceland. The thickest line represents the divergent plate boundary © Wikipedia
This figure shows the locations of the major deformation zones in Iceland. The thickest line represents the divergent plate boundary © Wikipedia

Several earthquakes a day are nothing unusual and very common. However, most earthquakes happen out at sea or are too weak to be noticed by humans. The Icelandic Met office keeps an interesting record about each one that is being updated on an hourly base.

To find the most obvious spot of the rift follow road 85 out of town heading north, pass the camping site on the right and look out for the valley on the left pointing towards the ocean. There is a small parking lot just north of it.