Gullfoss remains a spectacular waterfall located in southern Iceland, in Europe. This marvel of geology also forms an integral part of the Hvita River.
The surrounding terrain stays extremely rugged, and relatively untouched by man. The rapidly flowing water of Gullfoss originates from the second largest glacier in Iceland: Langjokull.
In terms of tourist interest, this site is the most popular waterfall in all of Iceland. Due to a combination of factors, on days when the sun is shining, a rainbow is visible throughout the day. Yet on some occasions, multiple rainbows appear visible as well.
Gullfoss Geological Characteristics
Gullfoss is situated in a unique and isolated location. The southward-flowing river takes a decidedly sharp right turn about o.62 mi (1 km) before reaching the waterfall. Then it rapidly flows into a uniquely curved, three-step staircase.
Subsequent to that, it plummets in two distinct stages. The first is a drop of about 36 ft (11 m), and the second drop measures roughly 69 ft (21 m).
These two drops take place within a crevice 105 ft (32 m) deep, and only 60 ft (20 m) wide. The crevice is about 1.6 mi (2.5 km) in length and flows perpendicular to the river itself.
Gullfoss Cultural Significance
Gullfoss holds a special place in the culture of the region. Throughout much of the first half of the 20th century, there was great interest in utilizing Gullfoss as a source of hydroelectric power.
Foreign investors purchased the rights to the waterfall for just that reason. However, the daughter of the man who owned those rights before protested vehemently for the preservation of the pristine beauty of Gullfoss. After years of court battles, the young woman lost her case.
However, the foreign owners had exhausted their funds, partly due to the expense of the trials. As a result, the rights were sold to the government, which promptly established a conservation area to protect it.