Skeidararsandur alluvial plane, Iceland


The first day of my Icelandic road trip got off to a late start due to a dead car battery and the Friday night Reykjavik summer rush hour traffic. When I finally got moving, I pushed hard eastward along the southern coastal road seeking the beauty and desolate landscape I had come to experience.

The topography in Iceland changes dramatically right before your eyes.  From the farmlands east of Reykjavik, to the flower covered hills by the black beaches of Cape Dyrholaey, and on to the fairy tale greenery of the Fjaorargigijufur canyon, to the edges of the Vatnajukull glacier, you feel as if you’ve traversed Kansas, Hawaii, Ireland, and the Canadian Rockies in the course of five hours.

After a well-earned wilderness campsite rest in the moss covered lava fields, and a short drive further east, it was time for breakfast at the edge of the Skeidararsandur alluvial plane. Astonishingly long and suspended one-way bridges cross this 1300 square kilometers of black sand and gravel with finger-like water streams moving south to the sea. The area is fed by a constant flow of ice melt, and a volcanic eruption under the glacier in 1996 caused many ‘glacial bursts’, and massive flooding of the area.

This image was taken close to the edge of the glacier where the last hills of vegetation and grazing sheep can actually get a foothold. I shot wide to capture the delicate powder black sand at my feet, the artic lichens dunes, and the foothills behind. You can just make out the two sheep across the river keeping a watchful eye. And even though the wind was howling, my bad coffee, hard boiled eggs, and can of cold ham never tasted better. A truly magnificent spot.