Wow, what a hotbed of activity!

My flight arrived at Icelands Keflavik International Airport at 8:30am so I decided that there was no time like the present to check out one of Icelands most famous geothermal pools. First stop: the Blue Lagoon! This Lagoon was formed by accident in the mid-70’s during work on a nearby geothermal power plant. Geothermal power plants in Iceland account for 66% of Iceland's energy use and are found throughout the country. A wonderful side benefit of all this hot water is the numerous public geothermal pools that are also found in most neighborhoods. As water was released from the power plant, the silica in the water coated the lava field and people began to bath and apply the silica mud to their skin. It’s reported that people with skin conditions noticed improvements in their skin. The present day Blue Lagoon is man-made and was officially formed in 1976 from the water output of the nearby geothermal power plant Svartsengi. During the 80’s and 90’s it was developed as a major geothermal pool, spa and restaurant attraction.

Geothermal power plant Svartsengi that feeds water to the Blue Lagoon in Iceland.
Where does the water come from? The geothermal power plant Svartsengi that feeds water to the Blue Lagoon in Iceland. Photo by Lisa Seff. February 14, 2016.

The water in the pools is a mix of freshwater and seawater that meet approximately 2000 meters below the surface at extreme temperatures which allow it to be used for electricity and hot water for Iceland communities. As the water moves towards the surface it picks up the minerals and cools to the perfect temperatures for warm water bathing. The facility is presently undergoing construction with additional hotel and spa facilities planned.

I had been to a geothermal pool, Chena Hot Springs in 2014 outside of Fairbanks Alaska, so I had an idea of what to expect. Hot water, icy paths and cold air! The Blue Lagoon included all of that and more!

Entrance to Blue Lagoon. Iceland.
Between the Basalt! Entrance to Blue Lagoon in Iceland. Photo by Lisa Seff. February 14, 2016.
I reached the Lagoon at about 9am and walked down the path squeezed between two walls of towering basaltic rock, until I came to a very modern entrance with about a dozen Icelanders waiting to advise me on how to best enjoy the waters. After a few minutes to get into my bathing suit (in Iceland? a bathing suit?) I showered and then went out into the cold air…O.K., it wasn’t that cold, almost 40 degrees Fahrenheit or 4.4 degrees Celsius. I was wowed by the steamy blue scene in front of me. Geothermal pools led to more geothermal pools, surrounded by black basaltic rock with a top layer of white silica like frosting on a chocolate cake! I quickly stepped into the first pool, which was a very comfortable 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius).
Sunny day over the Blue Lagoon in Iceland.  Photo by Lisa Seff. February 14, 2016.
Sunny day over a side lagoon by the Blue Lagoon entrance in Iceland. Photo by Lisa Seff. February 14, 2016.

The beginning of the Blue Lagoon.  Photo by Lisa Seff. February 14, 2016.
The beginning of the Blue Lagoon. Photo by Lisa Seff. February 14, 2016.
If you’d like more information about the Blue Lagoon, or geothermal power in Iceland, check out the following links! http://www.bluelagoon.com/ http://www.nea.is/geothermal/

Question: If the silica mud in the Blue Lagoon water is white…why does it appear blue in the pool?

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Comments

Susan Steiner

Wow, that blue lagoon makes Chena Hot Springs look like a teeny tiny pond. And such a gorgeous blue sky day, I would think a soak in there would be amazing. So, I'm really not good with colors, just thinking that the blue is from the reflection of the sky. We shall see!

Lisa Seff

Hi Susan! So yes, the Blue Lagoon was pretty massive and I was very lucky to be there on such a sunny day! (the next day was drizzly sleet for scuba diving!). Like Chena, the Blue Lagoon is part of a geothermal power plant, so it's pretty neat; clean energy and a warm water spa all in one! Nice guess on the color of the water...but can't give you a yes or no yet as my students haven't gotten to this journal yet! Look for the final answer in an upcoming journal.(:
Hope all is well with you, and look forward to seeing you somewhere soon! Maybe in a geothermal pool somewhere!
Lisa