Significant damage has been caused to the geothermal stalagmites on the floor of Eyjafjörður fjord, Northeast Iceland: a large part of one of the stalagmites has broken off. The natural phenomenon is under preservation and considered globally unique.
Eyjafjörður. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.
The stalagmites can be found in two locations in the fjord and are called Ystuvíkurstrýtur and Arnarnesstrýtur. They are popular among divers and during a diving expedition on Saturday it turned out that a two-meter large part of Arnarnesstrýtur was missing, ruv.is reports.
Diver Erlendur Bogason said this is a great loss as this was the most popular part of the stalagmites, where approximately 80°C (176°F) hot water flows out of them, and the part that had been studied the most.
Erlendur has dived with scientists from NASA, television crews from the BBC and makers of Japanese and French television programs. National Geographic is also airing programs where the stalagmites are mentioned, he said.
Even though fishing is prohibited around the stalagmites, Erlendur believes fishermen using hand-lines are to blame for the fracture.
“The stalagmites are very sensitive and it doesn’t take much force to damage them. Very likely someone got their hand-lines stuck in the stalagmites and broke a piece off,” Erlendur stated.
So far, Eyjafjörður is the only location in Iceland where geothermal stalagmites have been found on the seafloor. However, there is now speculation whether they may also exist in Steingrímsfjörður in the West Fjords.
Local captain Guðmundur Ragnar Guðmundsson recently found a strange rock in his nets, which measures 30-40 centimeters on each side and through which there are many open channels, three to seven centimeters in size, that are smooth on the inside, strandir.is reports.
It is believed that the rock may be a fracture from a geothermal stalagmite. The channels indicate significant flow of hot water. The rock was found by the ridge Tangahryggur south of Grímsey island on Steingrímsfjörður.