Our last stop on our Mývatn tour was the Leirhnjúkur geothermal solfatara. It is a very stark area, devoid of trees or much growth other than the ubiquitous lichens and moss on the ancient lava fields surrounding it. A solfatara is a volcanic area that gives off sulfurous gases and steam.
The hills and mountains around Leirhnjúkur are rather spectacularly colored: oranges, yellows, blues & whites, from the mineral deposits and emissions: sulfur causes the yellow and pyrite adds blue. It's a dangerous place. You are strictly warned to stay on the path because the surrounding crust is very thin; people have been known to fall through in places, ending up with severe burns. There is an easy trail of about 2 kilolmeters from the parking area through the lava fields up to the viewing platform for the mud pots. First it's a dirt path through the lava fields, which Martin & Karin said looked like bubble-wrap, then a wooden platform path that winds up the mountainside to overlook the mud pots.
Mineral deposits on the ground
Walking to Leirhnjúkur
The dark grey area to the right in the center of the photo above is the actively bubbling mud pots on the surface. We could see 4 of them, rather small...in fact, so small that Martin was hugely disappointed: "That's IT?!" haha! I guess our excitement to see REAL! LIVE! BUBBLING! mud pots rather raised his expectations.
From here we walked around the right side to look directly down on the mud pots and the area behind them, which was cracked and split in fascinating ways. See that big black spot in the bottom right corner? Not the one right next to the edge, the other one. Guess what it was? A high-end extremely expensive camera lens! What a bummer for whoever dropped it! Anders pondered ways to get down and fetch it up, but from our vantage point, we could see that it was already partially melted, plus hello! SEVERE BURNS.
From the viewing platform over the mud pits we continued to the top of the mountain to find the SERIOUS moonscape spread out before us. Check this out: