Page images

More of Strokr presently The next spring in a direct line north-east is the Great Geysir, but to the north-west are several others: first, a small steam escape; then a mud spring; and hard by this a grimly abyss, with the water out of sight, down 20 feet at least, muttering, growling, and sending up gusts of steam. Above this are two lovely ponds of still blue water, connected by a stream which flows over a partition of silicious deposit, leaving a space for the visitor's kettle. The beautiful forms of petrifaction can be seen far down in the water, tinted green and blue, while the edge on which one stands, shelves over the water and appears but a finger-breadth in thickness. The depth of these pools varies from 17 to 24 feet, and the length of the two conjointly is 90 feet. They seem to be supplied with water from the south-west, and are always brimful. They are at a considerable elevation above the Great Geysir and Strokr. Indeed, one of the most curious phenomena connected with the Geysir district, is the difference of level in the various pools and springs. The range is as great as 50 feet. We raised the level of the well just south of the blue ponds 20 feet, by turning the stream from these ponds into it, and completely altered its character, converting it from a well of furiously boiling water to a pool steaming tranquilly. Not satisfied with this experiment, we tried another, and dug into a small puddle of hot mud; it was at once converted into a bubbling pool of five jets. After this, a mud pond which had been in active ebullition, 130 feet north of it, on the farther side of the blue ponds, gave up working, and left a dry black bed, riddled with holes out of which the water had previously risen. I mention this to show how variable the springs are, and to urge the importance of every traveller taking precise notes of their position and character. North of the blue ponds is a well similar to that already described, the water about 16 feet down the bore briskly boiling.

The Great Geysir is farthest east of all the springs; it is indicated by a mound of sintery deposit like a heap of dry grey leaves, piled up about 30 feet above the soil, not quite regular in shape, as on the south, where the water flows away, the deposit spreads farther down the hill, and the rise is not so steep as on the north, where a miniature ravine causes the mound to be contracted and precipitous. At the summit is the basin, generally full to overflowing; it measures 56 feet by 46 feet, and is four feet deep, shelving gently to the bore, whose position is distinctly visible, even when the bowl is full, by the slight agitation of the surface immediately over it, and the darkness of the water. The deposit from Geysir and the other springs is formed with great rapidity. At every overflow it is stated to leave a layer of silex of the thickness of silver paper, and this is confirmed by the fact that I found near the stream flowing from Geysir a French newspaper completely coated, so that the printing was quite legible through a film of silex. I found also a bunch of moss Campion, every leaf and petal encrusted in a similar manner. Under a little fall which the Geysir water makes after it has become cool, and the deposit is less rapid, was hung a plover's wing; it was covered with a silicious film. The deposition of silex must be rapid indeed, if a newspaper, a tender flower, and a bird's feather, are overlaid before the hot water has had time to destroy them. The finest incrustations are not found in the rill from Geysir, but in the stream from the blue ponds, where leaves, flowers, and mosses are to be found in great abundance. It is interesting to notice the difference between deposits left by the same waters. The grey laminated sinter, of which the Geysir mound is built up, is different from the glossy white, orange, and scarlet deposit with which the stream bed from the blue ponds, the gullet of Strokr, and the fall of the Geysir rill, are lined. In the tiny ravine north of Geysir is a whistling steam jet and a few spluttering orifices. At right angles to this ravine is another gully leading up the hill, and serving in spring as a

[ocr errors][ocr errors][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][graphic][graphic]
« PreviousContinue »