Geysir and Strokkur

The famous Geysir geyser

The great Geysir hot spring is located in the highly active geothermal area of Haukadalur. This is the world famous spouting hot spring which gave its name to this phenomenon world-wide; geyser. Geysir was actually the first known geyser to modern Europeans. The name originates from the Icelandic word “að geysa” or to gush, this verb is from Old Norse so it worked perfectly for the Scandinavian countries.

Researchers have shown that Geysir has been active for about 10,000 years long before the settlers arrived. The oldest account of the famous Geysir is from 1294 when a big earthquake shook the ground. This seems to be the theme throughout the earliest mentions, when big eruptions happened or for example like in 1630 when the eruption became so powerful that they shook the ground.

In 1845 Geysir is said to have erupted as high as 170 meters but the research operated by Robert Bunsen a year later lists the eruption about 43-54 meters high.
Earthquakes have had a tremendous effect on Geysir and in 1896 Geysir is listed to have been nearly dormant. That year a huge earthquake caused the eruptions to start again. Occurring several times a day, for over an hour at a time going as high as 60 meters.

In the year 1910 Geysir was active every 30 minutes,  five years later 6 hours would pass between eruptions and in 1916, the eruptions had come to a full stop.

In the year 1935, men took measures into the hand and dug out the silica to get Geysir going again. This ditch resulted in lowered water table and the activity decreased. With time this channel became too clogged and the eruptions again became rare. In 1981 the ditch was cleared again and eruptions could be stimulated, on special occasions, by the addition of soap.

In 1981 men, again, decided to “fix” Geysir and the channel was cleared again. The eruptions could then be activated for special occasions by adding soap. After people had expressed their environmental concerns the adding of soap was seldom done. As a result, Geysir had almost stopped erupting. But when it did erupt, it was amazing, spouting boiling water like in the older day up to 70 m. The Icelandic government agreed to put soap into Geysir for the Icelandic national day (the 17th of June each year) and people waited for it with anticipation.


Geysir in 2009

Then it happened out of the blue that on this very day, Iceland’s national day, the 17th of June, that the earth shook. A huge earthquake hit the south coast of Iceland and Geysir started to spout about 122 meters high for 2 days straight. Geysir was active after that for about 3 years about 8 times a day but in July 2003 the active was only about 3 times a day.

In recent years Geysir barely erupts.

Strokkur geyser

Nowadays, Strokkur, another spouting geyser about 50 meters away from Geysir, is the star of the show! Strokkur can be relied upon to erupt powerfully every 5 to 10 minutes sending huge volumes of boiling water and steam as high as 70 meters. Both of the geysers along with quite a few hot spring are located in the Haukadalur area.

Strokkur geyser is first mentioned in history books in 1789 after an earthquake helped to unblock the conduit of the geyser. Strokkur’s activity was at first very unstable. Throughout the 19th century, the eruption was about 60 meters high but due to an earthquake that shook the area in turn of the 20th century, the geyser got blocked.

In 1963 locals cleaned what had been blocking the conduit and Strokkur has been happily erupting ever since.

Geysir erupting during Winter

Strokkur geyser in wintertime

Strokkur is one of the three stops along the famous Golden Circle in Iceland and is one of the most popular locations to visit when traveling in Iceland. You really can’t miss it.
A spouting geyser is one of the most spectacular sights in nature – there are very few places in the world where you can witness this.