Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Iceland (Travel)

Iceland is a stunningly beautiful place with strange and desolate landscapes, lava fields, lava tubes, plains of fractured rock, ice, fire, and steam. In a land of Earthly beauty, one natural wonder stands above the rest, Iceland’s beloved Gullfoss, or “Golden Falls”. With a 105-foot double-cascade, Gullfoss is by far Europe’s most powerful waterfall. On a sunlit day, the mist clouds surrounding the hammering falls are filled with dozens of rainbows, providing an unparalleled spectacle of color and motion.
Gullfoss is perhaps the most famous waterfall in Iceland, capturing the imagination of 19th-century and modern-day travellers alike. This first painting of Gullfoss comes from Mrs. Disney Leith’s Peeps At Many Lands. The Gullfoss is often described as one of the most spectacular sights or natural wonders of the world. The wide White River rushes southward. About a kilometer above the falls it turns sharply to the left and flows down a wide curved three step “staircase” and then abruptly plunges in two stages (11 m and 21 m) into a crevice 32 m deep. The crevice, about 20 m wide, and 2.5 km in length, is at right angles to the flow of the river.

The average of water running down this waterfall is by 100 – 180 m/s in the summertime and 50 – 110 m/s in the wintertime. The highest flood measured was 2000 m. The watershed of the river region covers some 6100 square kilometres, or about one seventeenth of the entire area of Iceland. With each passing second they empty some 440 cubic metres of fresh water into the ocean, amounting to a total daily flow of 38 million tons. Many people received a soaking, others were even drowned, and there were people who claimed that mysterious monsters dwelt in these streams. Today the waters still flow from the mountains to the sea, a continuing source of wonder and mystery. Iceland boasts many waterfalls, but somehow you never stop gasping at the sight of yet another one.

During the first half of the 20th century and some years into the late 20th century, there was much speculation about utilizing Gullfoss to create electricity. During this period, the waterfall was rented indirectly by its owners to foreign investors; however, the investors attempts were unsuccessful, partly due to lack of money. The waterfall was later sold to the state of Iceland. Even after it was sold, there were plans to utilize, which would have changed the waterfall forever. This was not done, and later the waterfall was conserved.