Eldgjá (meaning “Fire Canyon”) is a volcanic canyon in Iceland. Eldgjá and the Katla Volcano Iceland are part of the same volcanic system in the southern highlands of Iceland.
Hiking routes in the area:
Situated close to Hólaskjól and Langisjór, between Landmannalaugar and Kirkjubæjarklaustur, Eldgjá is believed to be the largest volcanic canyon in the world, approx. 40 km long, 270 m deep and 600 m wide at its greatest.
The first documented eruption in 939 was the largest flood basalt in historic time. An estimated 18 km3 of magma poured out of the earth. Evidence from tree rings from around the Northern Hemisphere indicated that the eruption in 939 caused the summer of 940 to be one of the coldest summers in 1500 years. Summer average temperatures in places as disparate as Central Europe, Scandinavia, Canada, Alaska, and Central Asia were 2°C lower than normal.
There is a waterfall named Ófærufoss within the canyon. A natural bridge across the waterfall collapsed in 1993, reportedly due to excess water from melting ice.
The northern part of Eldgjá, including Ófærufoss, and surrounding areas, have been a part of Vatnajökull National Park since 2011.