Geysir

The Great Geysir and Geyser Strokkur

Iceland’s geysers and hot springs

The geysers that adorn the bathrooms of all over the world owe their nomenclature to the Icelandic word “geysir”, which comes from the Icelandic Old Norse verb ‘Geysa’, meaning to “gush forth”. Also, all of the world’s hot springs that eject hot water are called geysers, in all tongues of the world. Interestingly in Iceland, the word Geysir means only one thing: it’s the name of one geyser, The Great Geysir.

Visiting the geysers of the Haukadalur Valley is a must on the Golden Circle tour. Although the Great Geysir is basically inactive, its little brother Strokkur is doing its part of the job for the amusement of travelers and locals alike.

The Active Geyser Strokkur

Another geyser called the Strokkur lies about just 50 mts south of it. This geyser erupts a lot more frequently than the Great Geyser. Thus the geyser Strokkur finds its pride of place in photos and brochures. Nearby there are around 30 smaller geysers and hot pools, including a tiny one aptly called: The Little Geysir.

Only lucky tourists get to see the eruptions of the Great Geyser, as they are unpredictable and the geyser is quite innactive. Many a times there is a long lull before an eruption. The Great Geyser is the first one in history to come to the notice of Mankind and to be written about extensively. Though the geysers are more than 10,000 years old, first references can be found in the 13th century. During the age of enlightenment the term ‘Geyser’ became popular in scientific circles to describe hydrothermal activity.

The geyser has had its ups and downs. In the year 1845, it is alleged that the eruptions reached a height of 170 meters. Prof Bunsen is accredited to doing research on the geyser and bringing out scientific explanations about its activity.

Buying and Selling the Geyser

The Great Geysir is not without its share of interesting history. Till the year 1894 the area was owned by a local farmer. His family had financial problems and was forced to seld the land.

First the land was offered to the State, but Congress did not show interest in it and refused to acquite the property. Lord James Craig, a whiskey distiller from Ulster province, who later went on to become the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, had on the other hand been very interested in purchasing the geysers. After being contacted by his tour guide in Iceland that the land could now be bought, he went ahead with the purchase. Lord James Craig paid 3,000 DKK for the land.

James Craigavon as he was later called, erected large fences and started a business by charging an entrance fee for visitors to watch the geyser.

After a year, he gave the area as a gift to a friend of his, E. Rogers, who altogether cancelled the access charges. After his death, his nephew Hugh Rogers inherited the site. In 1935 the land was sold for 8,000 ISK to a wealthy bussinesman and filmmaker, Sigurður Jónasson.

The new owner donated it to the Icelandic people.

The geysers and Strokkur receive up to 6,000 visitors per day nowadays. There have been attempts to apply entrance fees that help develop and protect the area. The government maintains that according to the 1935 agreement, the land within the fenced area is owned by the state.