Iceland's Tindjallajökull is a favourite with skiers, mountain climbers, glacier hikers and nature lovers.
Tindfjallajokull is a small glacier, characterized by a thin ice cap covering an area of only 19 square kilometres. Tindfjallajökull’s name ("Peak Mountains' Glacier") is drawn from its many mountain peaks (tindar) jutting out above the firn. Tindfjöll itself is a mountain ridge extending to the south of the glacier.
The highest peaks are Ýmir (1,462 m) and Ýma (1,448 m). Ýmir (Ymir) is named after the giant (jötunn) in Norse mythology from whom Oðinn (Odinn) and his brothers made heaven and earth, ocean and hills. Ýma (Yma) is named after a mythological troll and stands next to Ýmir.
Evidence of Ice Age eruptions
The glacier is considered an active volcano even though there is no evidence of eruptions in historic time. The volcano is said to have spewed one of the biggest tephra layers known in Iceland since the Ice Age. The layers of tephra assumed to have come from the volcano, have properties only created in special kind of eruptions, the very same kind as in St. Helena in 1980 and in Krakatoa between Java and Sumatra in 1883. Those kinds of eruptions are very rare. This one is said to have occurred 250 thousand years ago and supposedly covered the area between the three glaciers with 500°C tephra that travelled over the area at a speed of up to 200 km/ hour and transformed this beautiful district into a desert in minutes.
Global Volcanism Program defines Tindfjallajökull volcano as a stratovolcano, one of the oldest late-Quaternary volcanoes, stating that about a dozen small eruptions took place during the late Pleistocene or early Holocene. Eastwards under the glacier there is a considerable amount of rhyolite, and Þórsmörk (Thorsmork) ignimbrite can be traced to late Ice Age eruptions. The 5-km-wide caldera, covered by Tindfjallajökull’s icecap on its north-west rim, is considered to have been formed about 54,500 years ago.
Many rivers flow from the glacier, such as the Gilsá (Gilsa) to the south, Þórólfsá (Thorolfsa) to the south-west, Valá (Vala) to the north-west and Blesá (Blesa) to the north.
The glacier is not always visible on the way into Thorsmork, but the view of Tindfjöll mountain peaks is clearer. In a super jeep, it is possible to drive up to the snow area and hike over Tindfjallajökull glacier from there. The views over Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull glaciers, and Hekla volcano are spectacular.
The mountains are very popular with skiers, especially in late winter and spring.