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New Rift Appears in Thingvellir National Park

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New Rift Appears in Thingvellir National Park

A deep rift has opened up in the middle of the walking path through Almannagjá at Thingvellir national park in southwest Iceland, which marks the location where the American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet. The rift was probably caused by earthquakes and spring thaw.

thingvellir-fall2010-rocks_pk

From Thingvellir. Photo by Páll Kjartansson.

almannagja-rift_ruv

From RÚV's coverage of the phenomenon.

“It looks like some sort of Ginnungagap,” commented Einar Á. E. Saemundsson, the national park’s information representative, to Fréttabladid, referring to the abyss in Norse mythology which came before genesis.

Saemundsson said first the walking path was torn but later a deep hole formed which proved to be the opening of a ten to 14 meter deep rift straight underneath the path.

“It is probably the continuum of the small rift which people stride across when they walk out to Hakid and the viewing platform,” he speculated.

It was forbidden to walk through Almannagjá while a makeshift bridge was made to cover the hole temporarily. The gorge has now been reopened. It is being pondered as to whether the hole should be filled with dirt.

“If that is the conclusion, a lot of material will be needed,” Saemundsson said. He believes specialists will first be asked to determine the cause of the rift opening up.

He himself believes it is an interplay between the large south Iceland earthquakes of 2000 and 2008 and significant spring thaw which caused earth to be washed away from the rift through the years.

“We have seen this in the national park before,” Saemundsson added. “We will thoroughly examine the paths here in the gorge but I believe it is localized.”

Click here to watch national broadcaster RÚV’s coverage of the phenomenon yesterday.

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