#7 The Kerlingarfjöll Mountains of Central Iceland

The geothermally active Kerlingarfjöll mountains in Central West Iceland.

The Kerlingarfjöll mountains are located in the Central Highlands of Iceland. The Kerlingarfjöll massif was formed asa tuya volcano erupted under more than 550 m of ice (see research by Dr. John Stevenson), and is mostly composed mostly of intermediate to evolved  volcanic rocks such as andesite and rhyolite. The ground surface is mostly gravel, with very little exposed bedrock. This is because of prolific weathering via freeze-thaw which has acted on the mountains since their exposure after the retreat of the glacier which once covered the area. Evidence for these glaciers is provided in the form of glacial clays found in valleys between dolerite ridges, more so in the north of the plateau. There is also evidence that there was once an ice-dammed lake that stood for long enough for a delta to develop inside, a cross section of which can be seen by the riverside at the Kerlingarfjöll camping site.

Seen in the picture above, hot spring valleys cut the mountain range from west to east and give entire mountain sides a rich palette of autumn oranges and browns set agains the white and blue of the snow, ice and hot spring water. For more information about the geology of this wonderful area of Iceland please consult the following links:

Report – A contribution to the Geology of Kerlingarfjöll (1946)

Paper – Stevenson et. al., 2009

Paper – Stevenson et. al., 2011



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