Gulfoss Waterfall: Iceland's Very Own Waterfall
The roaring thunder of the falls of Gullfoss is heard even before the beauty of the falls can be seen. Water crashes over the two falls at roughly 100-180 cubic meters per second, before it falls into the 35 meter deep and 2.5 kilometer long crevice. The Gulfoss River just seems too simple vanish into the center of the earth. This waterfall is one of the most popular falls to photograph as well.
This famous Icelandic waterfall is fed by the river Hvita or the White River. This is an icy cold river, whose source comes from below the Langjokull Glacier. Continuing over the falls, and winding up emptying into the Atlantic Ocean. This water fall has one of the largest water volumes in Europe as a result of glacial run off and rain. So much eater flows over the falls each second that it could easlity fill a large building in a matter of seconds.
Gullfoss is made of two separate waterfalls, one right after the other, one with 11 meters and the lower with 21 meters. Glacial outbursts may cause increases to the water column. The highest recorded water volume was 2000 meters per second during an outburst.
It was also these glacial outbursts, repeatedly occurring, that formed the crevice into which the river falls. The rock over which the water flows is actually cooled lava that flowed through the area during Iceland’s long volcanic history. Hvita found its way into a fissure and carved out, through erosion, its passage.
The land that surrounds Gullfoss is 200 meters above sea level and features hardy vegetation that has adapted to the cold environment. There are plains of low blueberry, birch shrubs, and holy grass and existing harmoniously with the lichen that calls the rocky landscape home.
The waterfalls in Norway are often used for hydroelectric companies that produce electricity. The Gullfoss has managed to escape this duty. Due to luck, and the efforts of Sigriour Tomasdottir who fought to keep developers, in the 1800’s, from building a plant on the water fall. In honor of her efforts, a plaque sits at the top of the falls today.
She was so dedicated to the preservation of this fountain, that she even threatened to jump into the the falls if a plant was built. The parties interested in the building soon found that they did not have enough money to pay rent on the land, and gave up the pursuit.