Iceland – Water and fire

According to the ancient Greeks, Earth, Water, Air and Fire makes up all materials of our Planet. Greek scholars must have travelled to Iceland before elaborating their theoretical representation of Nature. 

Iceland is a land of ice, as suggested in my previous post. More fundamentally, the island is shaped by key natural elements. Water and fire mingle with earth and air to produce unique landscapes, at times rough and dark but more often harmonious and delicate. 

Freshwater is plentiful in Iceland, running everywhere from the massive glaciers in the hinterland. It accumulates in snow fields, lakes, ponds to flow into rivers and torrents. Iceland’s river water loves jumping the many cliffs like straight ropes or large curtains before landing in dramatic splashes. 

Iceland was forged underwater with our Planet’s fire. In geological terms, the island sits on the growing rift between the North-American and the Eurasian tectonic plates. Nowadays, Iceland comprises around 30 active volcanic systems. The most deadly volcanic eruption obliterated about one forth of the Icelandic population in the late 18th century.

More recently, we all remember the air traffic chaos in northern Europe in May 2011 – provoked by the volcanic ashes aired by the Grimsvotn volcano hiding under the massive Vatnajokull glacier. In 2021, a volcanic eruption fissure developed near Fagradalsfjall, a mountain near Reykavik. 

Thus, fire in Iceland can be wild, massive and deadly. It takes more discrete and quiet forms in the everyday’s life of the island. Many pieces of black-burnt rock and sand speak volume about the way they came to their mineral status. Craters of various shapes and sizes are scattered all around the hinterland. Geysers and other geothermal activities paint very unique landscape sceneries. 

Water and fire are antinomic elements in the ancient Greek’s representation of Nature. However, they often cohabit in Iceland’s landscapes in very peculiar and aesthetic ways. This is what my photography aims hereafter to suggest and to interpret.



By Bertrand

Trotting the globe with vision, values and humour