How was Ásbyrgi created?

Ásbyrgi is one of the greatest natural wonders of Iceland and is part of Iceland’s largest national park, Vatnajökull National Park. This cliff is 3.5 km / 2.1 m long and 1.1 km / 0.7 m wide; the height of the rock where it is highest at the bottom is 98 m / 322 feet. The rock face was created when the crater Stóravít at the top of Þeistareykjabunga erupted 11 thousand years ago. The lava is similar to the one now flowing from Fagradalsfjall in Reykjanes Peninsula. There are two hypotheses about the origin of Ásbyrgi. The first is that two catastrophic floods took place in Jökulsá á Fjöllum, which is a stone’s throw away, the former 9000 years ago and the latter 3000 years ago. The second hypothesis, which many consider much more probable, is that Sleipnir, Odin’s horse, stepped firmly on the ground during his journey over lands and seas. Ásbyrgi is, therefore, Sleipnir’s footprint, as seen in this photo taken 3 minutes before midnight.


Ásbyrgi 28/06/2021  23:57 20mm

Photo and text : Páll Stefánsson