Across the Bridge Between Continental Plates in Iceland

Although I decided to drive around Iceland clockwise from Keflavik International Airport over a period of eleven days, the first thing I did after picking up the rental car was to drive approximately 20 minutes south to Miðlína, at which there is a literal bridge between the North American and Eurasian continental plates.

Across the Bridge Between Continental Plates in Iceland

The sky vacillated between partly cloudy and mostly cloudy; and the weather was just cool enough to wear a light jacket — but I was more comfortable wearing a T-shirt, as the air was significantly warmer than I expected. The light breeze occasionally reminded me that the air was not as warm as I thought, though.

Miðlína Iceland

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

Civilization tended to disappear quickly while driving along the Reykjanes peninsula on Highway 44, which eventually becomes Highway 425 at Hafnir. The lava-scarred landscape appears to resemble the surface of the Moon, with seemingly no buildings or people anywhere.

Miðlína Iceland

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

I eventually arrived at Miðlína; and no one else was there. I parked the car and started walking down the paved pathway to the bridge.

Miðlína Iceland

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

I could see the bridge off in the distance, which seemed like it was placed eerily in the middle of nowhere — but it is actually located on the Mid Atlantic Ridge, which is one of the major plate boundaries in the world.

Miðlína Iceland

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

The way the landscape kept changing amazed me — and this was only the walk from the car to the bridge.

Miðlína Iceland

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

Information signs flanked the bridge at each end.

Miðlína Iceland

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

The first information sign welcomes visitors to the Eurasian plate prior to crossing the bridge.

Miðlína Iceland

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

One has to wonder about the future of this bridge over the long term — especially if the theory is proven to be true that the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates are continuously drifting apart at the rate of a few centimeters each year, with great forces under the gaping rifts.

Miðlína Iceland

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

As the plates diverge, linear fractures known as fissures form due to stresses created by the tension that builds up as the plates move away from each other.

Miðlína Iceland

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

When walking across the bridge, look to the right to see the separation of the Eurasian plate on the right side and the North American plate on the left side…

Miðlína Iceland

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

…and look to the left while on the bridge to see the separation of the Eurasian plate on the left side and the North American plate on the right side.

Miðlína Iceland

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

The information sign at the other end of the bridge welcomes visitors to the North American plate.

Miðlína Iceland

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

One can also walk along the major fissure between the two continental plates — which provides clear evidence of the presence of a diverging plate margin…

Miðlína Iceland

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

…and even walk under the bridge.

Miðlína Iceland

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

Named after Leif Ericson — who was from Iceland and is the first known European to have discovered continental North America — the bridge between the two continents at Sandvík was built as a symbol for the connection between Europe and North America.

Miðlína Iceland

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

On the walk back to the car, I realized just how vast is this area — especially when no one else is around…

Miðlína Iceland

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

…can you find the rental car in the above photograph?

Summary

Here is a little trivia for you: the section of the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn between Fort Hamilton Parkway and Knapp Street was named Leif Ericson Drive back in 1969. The explorer from Iceland was born in the year 960.

Miðlína Iceland

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

If you want to visit the bridge between the two continental plates — which is known in Icelandic as Brú Milli Heimsálfa — know that there are no facilities and no admission fee to enter.

Mentioning that the bridge between the two continental plates is open 24 hours per day may initially seem ridiculous; but if you are visiting sometime in the middle of the night during the months flanking the summer solstice, the sun will be out — albeit low on the horizon — which means potentially interesting lighting for your photographs and even less of a chance of other visitors joining you.

All photographs ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

3 thoughts on “Across the Bridge Between Continental Plates in Iceland”

  1. Ryan says:

    That’s so cool!

  2. Joseph says:

    Had you gone a little further out, you ought to have been able to straddle both sides while standing over the divide. It’s a much cooler picture too!

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      Exactly to where are you referring, Joseph?

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