Columnar Basalt Damaged in Viewing Platform Construction Skip to content

Columnar Basalt Damaged in Viewing Platform Construction

By Larissa Kyzer

Photo: Screenshot, RÚV.

Some of the basalt columns in Stuðlagil Canyon in East Iceland have been damaged during construction of a viewing platform RÚV reports.

A video showing the damage was posted to social media and forwarded to the East Iceland Nature Conservation Association, which has issued a rebuke of the landowner’s association that owns and manages the canyon, one of the most popular natural attractions in Upper Jökuldalur and the whole region.

In the video, a crane digger is shown tipping three large boulders off the top edge of the canyon, sending them careening over the edge, breaking off large pieces of the basalt columns as they fall to the canyon floor.

“I have to express my astonishment that this extraordinary nature pearl has been treated in the rough manner seen [in the video],” Andrés Skúlason, the chair of the East Iceland Nature Conservation Association, told RÚV.

Screenshot, RÚV

Speaking for the landowner’s association, Stefanía Katrín Karlsdóttir said that the boulders were pushed over the canyon edge for safety reasons. The boulders were “detached and we’d never want to go down the path of having an unsafe work area for employees, not to mention it being hazardous for guests who come here to have detached boulders [on the cliff edge]. So these boulders went over the edge and down into the river and I can safely say that [this canyon] has a rather lot of boulders and stones and sand.”

Asked if the boulders might have been moved to a safer location rather than dumped into the canyon, Stefanía Katrín replied that “[i]t would have undoubtedly been possible to move them a little but there weren’t a lot of them. A few of them went down here and I can’t see that it matters that much for there to be a few more [boulders in the canyon]. All you have to do is to look in the river to see how things are.”

RÚV pressed Stefanía Katrín further, pointing out that the issue was that the boulders had broken pieces off the basalt columns, which is clearly visible in the video that Andrés provided the news outlet with (see here). “I disagree completely that anything was broken off the columns. They just dropped down onto the next ledge, which is usually submerged in the river. Just not now that the spring thaw is over.”

Asked if the landowners planned to tip any more boulders into the canyon, Stefanía said no. “This was only to get rid of the ones that were in the way to ensure people’s safety.”

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