There are few places on earth, where the population feels so connected to their natural environment. Iceland is one of these places. This country counting only 320,000 Icelanders surviving and thriving in a land like no other, blessed with jaw dropping natural splendour and unique features, has a reputation for pioneering, innovation and creativity. Among these innovations there is an interesting construction/excavation project going on over in Iceland right now: an artificial tunnel and cave complex being dug into the Langjökull Glacier- Europe’s second’s largest glacier.
In 2010, one of Iceland’s leading consulting engineering firms had an idea, that resonated with some of Iceland’s most experienced adventure tour operators. They had a bold and daring vision, to take people not just around, but also inside the heart of the remote and extraordinary glacier ice cap, to see the magnificent “blue ice” which is buried deep beneath the surface. Bringing tourists nearly 100 feet below the surface of the glacier, the structure is expected to become semi-permanent, lasting through the summer months for years to come.
When complete, the publicly accessible infra-glacial facility will consist of numerous nooks and dens which will house exhibitions, information, restaurants and even a small chapel for those who would like to marry deep within an ice cap.
The so-called "Icecave" is set to open later this year, and is not far from Reykjavik. For now, its entrance consists only of some understated plywood framing. But tunnels, bays, and side chambers are currently under construction, being chipped down by excavation equipment and drills, and then further shaped by hand tools. Lights are now being installed in the walls, giving the place an otherworldly glow that comes from within the structure itself.
Meanwhile, huge ducts like something out of a frozen warehouse cross the frozen ceilings and extend deeper into the glacier.
The Ice Cave Iceland tour
Glacial ice is made up of compacted snow that has fallen over thousands of years. Visitors to the attraction will see stripes of subtly different coloured layers of ice that represent different periods of snowfall.
Whiter layers formed when the weather was particularly cold, because air was trapped within the ice crystals, which is reflective. Layers that are darker or bluer in colour were created by snowfall in warmer or wet conditions when little air was trapped in the snow.
The weight of the snow build-up compressed the layers and the air trapped within them, causing ice at the heart of a glacier to appear a brilliant blue.
Tourists visiting the attraction will see large caves beneath the glacier, the beautiful blue ice and will also be able to sit inside man-made rooms with ice furniture.
While there are other natural caves in Icelandic glaciers, they are seasonal, forming in warmer months and lasting in winter.