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Saturday, February 04, 2006

M�vatn



The lake M�vatn (Icelandic m� midge, vatn lake, the lake of midges) is situated in the north of Iceland, not far from Krafla volcano. The name of the lake comes from the huge numbers of fly (midges) to be found there in the summer. A multitude of different ducks feed from them, so the area is of interest to ornithologists. It is situated about 50 km south of H�sav�k, and has a surface area of 37 km�. It is not very deep, its greatest depth being only 4.5m. Since the year 2000, a marathon (sport) around the lake is held here in summer.

Volcanism

Tourism is a growing industry here like in the rest of Iceland. Visitors come to M�vatn especially because of the lava formations which can be found in a great variety at its shores. In the lake itself, there are the pseudo craters of Sk�tusta�ir. They did not emit lava themselves, but originate from explosions when lava entered the water of the lake. Not far from the lake, there is the cinder cone Hverfjall (or Hverfell). It is possible to hike up to its top, from where the view over the landscape is remarkable as well as from the peak of the mountain Vindbergjarfjall Below lies the area of dark castles (Dimmuborgir), nice lava formations but which are endangered by the multitude of tourists visiting them. Two caves with hot springs (Grj�tagj� and St�ragj�) were used as swimming pools in former times, but this is no longer possible, because of the growing heat and bacterium. Like in the region of �ingvellir, the continental drift between the European and the American continents can be seen in some fissures. One of them is 20 km long and the growing distance since the 80ies may be observed at a mark placed by scientists. During the so-called M�vatn fires, a volcanic eruption of the Krafla in the 18th century, the small village of Reykjahl�� had been touched by a near catastrophe. Only because the people where in the church at the moment, which lies higher than the rest of the village, did they survive the encroaching lava stream. The new church on the site dates from 1962. Further interesting volcanic phenomena can be seen at the near-by active volcanoKrafla. Because of the volcanic origin, there are silica quarries at the lake.

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