Entering the Enchanted Realm

Entering this otherworldly looking ice cave with its deep-blue meltwater shapes and impressive 50 m (164 ft) length, 10 m (33 ft) width and 1.8 m (6 ft) height inside the Svínafellsjökull glacier in Skaftafell, Iceland, creates an awe-inspiring atmosphere.
The snow is up to 1000 years old and has metamorphosed into highly compressed glacier ice, which contains almost no air bubbles anymore. It absorbs most of the wavelengths of the visible light except for the shortest blue that is scattered. Therefore, this ice grotto appears in this incredible deep blue. The cave formed by a glacial mill called moulin. Rainwater and meltwater on the glacier surface aggregate and channel into creeks that enter the glacier through crevasses. Such waterfalls in the glacier melt deep holes into the ice. The accumulated water continues to flow into the glacier, forming long meltwater tunnels at its bottom. The ice melts into these seemingly surreal shapes, which are created by the turbulent water flow inside the cave. At the end of the glacier, the water flows out of the glacier mouth that opens the view back into the ice cave. The fine-grained sediments in the water and the volcanic ash carried by the wind, let the frozen meltwater stream at the bottom of the cave appear in a muddy brownish color.
Due to the rapid movement of the glacier of one meter per day (3.3 ft) over uneven terrain, this ice cave disintegrated at its rear end into a deep crevasse in the ice, called a sérac. Indirectly reflected daylight entered the ice cave at the serac and homogeneously illuminated the interior of the cave.
This scenery and the constant crackling sounds in the creeping ice make it impossible to escape the overwhelming impression of this ice cave.

January 2011
Canon 5D MkII, Canon EF-L 16-35 mm, f/16, 30 sec, ISO 50, tripod
Iceland Gallery » Entering the Enchanted Realm