The ABCs of: Hot springs in Iceland

April 11, 2019

Iceland is famed for its striking, almost otherworldly landscapes. Among its most famous natural formations are the geothermal hot springs: pools of water that are warmed naturally by heat generated by the Earth’s mantle. While some of Iceland’s geothermal springs are too hot to enter, there are others that are the perfect temperature for a warm, relaxing dip. Here are three interesting facts about the pleasant pools:

An ancient namesake

Many of the place names in Iceland stem from the prolific number of geothermal hot springs dotting the island. In Icelandic, reyk — which you’ll recognize from the name of Iceland’s capital city, Reykjavik — means “steam”, while laug — the beginning of such city names as Laugarvatn and Laugarbakki — means “pool.”

Beneficial minerals

The presence of minerals in the water, which is a result of geothermal activity, means geothermal hot springs can be very good for your skin. One such mineral is indicates the presence of sulfur; another mineral found in geothermal water is silica, which is renowned for its skin softening benefits.

Crust to surface

How does geothermal heat occur? Hot springs get their warmth from the natural decay of materials within the earth’s mantle. Water that seeps deep enough into the Earth’s core can be heated by these materials; it then must find a crack in the Earth’s crust to find its way to the surface. Currents of heat in the Earth’s mantle carry the water through cracks, where it settles as pools.

Getting there

Discover the hot springs of Iceland and more on a trip with National Geographic Family Journeys with G Adventures, a new line of trips for adventure-loving families in search of a meaningful way to discover the world together. With itineraries inspired by National Geographic's expertise in photography and storytelling, wildlife, culture, history, and geography, these trips let families connect with the world and each other.

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