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Matt Willen Matt Willen | Friday 15. Mayá2009

Some Geology

Now that I have been at this for a few days, I am going to try to get somewhat more informative about the Westfjords. Let me start with a little about the topography. Geologically speaking, the Westfjords are formed of volcanic rock, considerably older than the rest of Iceland, which itself is formed largely (perhaps exclusively) of volcanic rock.

The older age of the geology in the area accounts for the relative absence of geothermal activity, which is abundant around much of the rest of the country. There are "hot spots" around the region in which volcanic activity has caused some uplift and formation of more peak-like mountains (as opposed to the flat tops of the fjords obvious in the video). This is especially the case in the area between þingeyri and Flateyri, the Westfjord Alps. Otherwise, the topography of the fjords was formed by glacial activity.

Unlike most other places in Iceland, residents of the Westfjords do not heat their houses with geothermal power, but with electricity that is generated at a small hydroelectric plant south of Hrafnseyri. Consequently, power is somewhat more expensive in the region than elsewhere in the country. A single set of power lines is strung over the mountains into the towns and farms around the region, and in winter it isn't uncommon for the power to go down for short periods during bad weather.

 

Up until 1994, travel between villages in the region was made exclusively via mountain passes on gravel roads, and consequently many of the towns were cut off from each other for long stretches during the winter, due to avalanches and heavy snow. Some people walked the passes, when possible. In 1996, construction of the tunnel that links Isafjörður with Suðeyri (to the southwest) and Flateyri and Þingeyri (to the south) was completed, thus making travel between these communities and the fjords in which they lie possible throughout the year. The tunnel is a single lane affair, with pullouts every 0.5 kilometers or so to allow traffic to pass. It is sort of arch-shaped and has the appearance of being bored through the hillsides. Its walls, for instance, are not formed of concrete slabs as one sees in tunnels in the US, but of a sort masonry spray coat which seals the rock. About 3 km south of Isafjörður, the tunnel forks with the leg to the right heading to Suðeyri in an additional 3 km. Some people now commute between the three villages (typically to Isafjörður), and two buses run a couple of times a day between the towns.

 

I came across quite a bit of maintenance going on about town yesterday, especially of fishing nets, some of which I photographed and have placed in the slide show below. The nets are good for a couple of years, though need occasional repair. In fact, one might say that there is an omnipresence of nets (retired and otherwise) around town, at least around the docks. Nets are made in Isafjörður, at a factory on the south side of town called Netagerð (literally Net Works).

 

Today, I am a little more focused (which some may refer to as an anomaly) than I was yesterday, which made itself obvious in certain ways, not the least of which was in forgetting to put a card in my camera in the evening when we took snowmobiles up into the hills above town. As I said to Gusti, "One needs to have a sense of humor about such things." I have a card in my camera and am off to see the other side of the fjord.

Comments:

#1

┴g˙st G. Atlason, Wednesday 20 May | 13:14

Hello some testing!

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