“The sound doesn’t have to be clear, but it has to be interesting,” Geir Jenssen, aka Biosphere, once told me about field recording. The recording in the Grjótagjá lava cave is – I hope – not necessarily clean, but interesting. There was almost absolute silence in the grotto, so I recorded a minute… on hold. The gentle hum of water and surroundings mixed with the noise generated by the recording device itself.
Grjótagjá is located near Lake Mývatn, in a very active geothermal area. The blue water inside the cave is hot – the temperature sometimes exceeds 50 ° C during volcanic eruptions. Lava caves, of which there are over 700 in Iceland, were often used as shelters – travelers, farmers, but also criminals escaping from the justice system (which formerly operated in Iceland as in the Wild West, I will write more about it on another occasion). This was the case with Jón Markússon, who lived and bathed in the grotto in the eighteenth century.
Due to the contamination of the cave by tourists visiting it (who, despite the clear ban on bathing, often swam in the cave, brushed their teeth and defecated!), The cave was closed in 2018. Today it is open again, it remains to count on wiser behavior of tourists.
This place is known to fans of “Game of Thrones”. A love scene with Ygrytte and Jon Snow was filmed in Grjótagjá.