Aerial Views of Iceland's Volcanic Rivers | Travel | Smithsonian
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Aerial Views of Iceland's Volcanic Rivers

Andre Ermolaev's photographs of Iceland's volcanic rivers can look more like abstract paintings

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At first glance, it’s easy to confuse these photographs with abstract paintings. The aerial images, taken by Andre Ermolaev from a Cessna aircraft, show the elegance of Iceland’s volcanic rivers as they flow through ash and glacial ice.

On My Modern Met, Ermoleav says, "what has become a real discovery for me is the bird’s eye view of the rivers flowing along the black volcanic sand. It is an inexpressible combination of colors, lines, and patterns."

Iceland, an island nation comparable in size to Ohio, is home to hundreds of glaciers and volcanoes and has been responsible for 30 percent of Earth's lava flow in the last 500 years. These contrasting natural wonders help create the landscapes depicted in Ermoleav's images. 

Dr. Nicolas Warner explained over email that in Iceland, it is common for glacial melt water to form braided streams on outwash plains, called sandurs. These sandurs, composed of a variety of dark basaltic volcanic material, are a dynamic contrast to the glacial rivers in Ermoleav's images.

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