This spectacular high temperature area (410 m above sea level) is situated by road no. 1 by the Namaskard pass in the vicinity of Lake Myvatn. It is a prototype of such areas, consisting of stinking steam vents, solfataras and boiling mud pits. The whole area is metamorphosed by the geothermal activity and thick deposits of silica, gypsum and sulphur cover the ground. One has to be very careful crossing such areas, because the thin crust might brake.
Unfortunately too many people have been severely burnt by stepping through. The almost pure sulphur of this area was exported during the last few centuries. These sulphur mines were considered the richest in the country and the so-called Reykjahlid-brothers, the proprietors of the area, are said to have become rich by processing the sulphur and exporting it.
In 1563 the mines came into the possession of the Danish king and the sulphur processing continued with intervals to the middle of the 19th century. In 1939 a sulphur factory was built in Bjarnarflag, near the mines. Its operation came to an end after a few years. After that some entrepreneurs started building a factory on the spot and had some five or six boreholes sunk in the area to pipeline the steam to the factory. The foundations of the factory house had been built and the boreholes had been sunk, when the shareholders realized, that the end price of the product would be to high for the world market and decided not to continue with the project.
Namaskard is on nat.is North Iceland Saga Trail
Photo Credit: Visit Mývatn