Thursday, March 19th

On Thursday Signy, a friendly local on the board of the NES residency, took a few of us for a little trip to Kalfshamarsvik, about 20 km from Skagastrond, a place which used to be a fishing village at the beginning of the 20th century before declining. The place has a bit of a surreal feeling with basalt column formations all around. 

The village

In the 1920's the village of Kalfshamarsvik counted about a hundred inhabitants living from fishing, specially exporting saltfish. The creek of Kalfshamarsvik provided a good natural harbour. However, after 1930 the number of inhabitants declined rapidly and the village was deserted in the 1940's. Remains of decrepit houses in turf can still be seen. 

The village declined after the price of saltfish dropped due to a world depression; the Spanish Civil War of 1936 made things worse, since Iceland exported much of  its fish to Spain. Icelanders searched for new ways of fish exports and this led eventually to the export of iced and frozen fish as well as the building of fish factories all over the country (like in nearby Skagastrond in 1938). This called for larger ships than before which in turn required better harbours. The small village of Kalfshamarsvik could not sustain fish industry on such a large scale and villagers moved away to larger communities. 

A giant Giant's Causeway

Like the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland, Kalfshamarsvik has lots of basalt columns dipping into the sea but even bigger. Basalt is a volcanic rock type . Basal columns with polygonal and sometimes almost perfect hexagonal shapes are formed when the molten lava hits the surface. When the lava encounters either air or another cool rock, it cools down quite rapidly and by so doing starts shrinking. The shrinking process slowly develops into the depth, forming longer and longer columns.  

No comments: