When people think of a beach, many may imagine white sand. However, in Nordic Iceland, there are spots where the entire coast is covered in black sand. This beach is called Black Sand Beach and has become a famous landmark in Iceland due to its unique appearance, attracting many tourists. In this article, I will introduce Black Sand Beach and why its sand is black, as well as the highlights of this unusual destination.
Black Sand Beach Features
The southern coastline of Iceland is home to a beach with jet-black sand, commonly known as “Black Sand Beach.” It defies the conventional image of a beach being associated with white sand, but the gradation between the black sand and the white splash of the waves is considered very mysterious.
So, how did this black sand beach come to be? In fact, the black sand on this beach is made up of basalt, a type of volcanic rock. If you look closely at the black sand, you will see that it is a collection of small pieces of broken basalt.
When volcanic magma is rapidly cooled by seawater, it solidifies and forms volcanic rock which is then gradually polished by ocean currents. This process results in rounded black stones, and the fine volcanic rocks washed up on the shore collect to form black sand beaches consisting of black sand.
The name “black sand beach” is a generic term for beaches made of basalt, and there are several such spots in Iceland. Here, I will introduce two of the most popular black sand beaches, Reynisfjara and Diamond Beach.
Reynisfjara, famous for its hexagonal basalt columns
Among the black sand beaches in Iceland, the most famous is Reynisfjara, located in the southern part of the country. Here, in addition to the beautiful black sandy beach, you can see unusual rock walls in the shape of hexagonal pillars. The hexagonal and pentagonal column shapes are the result of a natural phenomenon known geologically as columnar jointing. This phenomenon occurs when the volume of lava contracts as it cools and solidifies, resulting in a linear cross-section.
Reynisfjara is also popular among tourists for its oddly shaped rocks that protrude from the ground and sea. These rocks are also made of basalt, like the black sand beach, and some of them are over 60 meters tall.
Diamond Beach, where ice chunks are washed ashore
The Diamond Beach, located in the southwest of Iceland, is different from Reynisfjara in that you can see chunks of glacier washed up on the beach. The glaciers that are beached here have broken off from the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier and are so elaborate that they are reminiscent of works of art. The transparent ice blocks shining against the black sand beach create a very fantastic sight, just as the name “Diamond Beach” implies.
Here I introduced Black Sand Beach, a jet-black beach that stretches along the Icelandic coastline. Black sand beaches are formed when basalt is ground and crushed by ocean currents and waves to form round stones. There are several black sand beaches in Iceland, including Reynisfjara and Diamond Beach, where you can see the beautiful scenery created by nature.