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A geological start

Geologically speaking, Fault Line Living truly began today with us visiting the dramatic ‘start’ of the fault line we are following in Iceland – the Mid-Atlantic Ridge – a massive 18,000 km rift between two of the earth’s major tectonic plates. We visited the point at which the ridge enters the Artic Ocean – a fascinating area in the north of Iceland known as Oxarfjorour.

Here the earth feels like it has been torn up, with dramatic swarms of fissures and surreal rock formations. It was always our plan to drive as close to the fault line as possible, but we never thought we’d get Lottie quite this close:

Along the fissure we began the project in earnest – talking to local people who live dramatically close to the fault line to understand what life is like for them.

First up we met Hrund and her family from Holl, Kelduneshield who told us about her life and her experience of earthquakes.

She told what was to become a common story. Instead of being constantly worried or stressed about earthquakes, the Icelanders are incredibly stoical and relaxed about earthquakes. It seems that seismic activity is such a part of normal life that they don’t think about it.

“The lake appeared over night. The land moved like the sea with waves going over and over. The earth moved like a cake splitting in two. I am never scared by them. Buildings just fall down and then we fix them. It’s simple. We never think about them. We don’t have them in our head. We are not always thinking and talking about it. If it happens, it happens.”

She told us to visit Hlifargerdi, a house standing on its own, like an island, surrounded on all sides by fissures. This remarkable house has somehow survived all odds to remain standing, and to remain the home of Saevar Orn.

We visited him as he was preparing the house for a big party for his wife’s 60th birthday. He explained that because the house was built with no foundations, it essentially ‘rides’ the earthquakes.

“I’m not worried. My house has survived since the 1950’s – without even a crack appearing on the walls. Yes, the cracks are on either side, and there is a big bit of land that has just sunk into the earth but my land gets bigger by 2cm every year!”

As we continued, we saw many examples of farms and other dwellings in dramatic proximity to seismic activity.

5 Responses to “A geological start”

magic on 11/08/2010 at 12:54 pm said :

You have to admire the stress managment of Icelandic people, if only everyone was as calm under that sort of enviromental pressure. Looks like great weather for photography Adam!!

Deborah Eaton on 11/08/2010 at 1:41 pm said :

We met on the ferry to Denmark – or rather getting off !
You are obviously off to a great start
we are following your journey with great interest !

mel on 13/08/2010 at 9:02 am said :

love the photo of the ocean and the coastline. It all looks so peaceful.
The house surrounded by massive cracks is fascinating- can you imagine living in the middle of that!

Lisa Moore on 13/08/2010 at 9:52 pm said :

Loving the story so far

alan on 16/08/2010 at 1:45 pm said :

Brilliant work! What a fantastic start, facinating stuff and it’s wonderful being able to follow you all so closely, (it’s such a good website). Lovely photos Mr Whitaker. Take care all. X

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