Aerial View of Flowing Rivers of Volcanic Ash in Iceland

andre ermolaev iceland

These abstract looking images will appear like some creation by a contemporary artist. Nothing could be farther from the truth of what they really are. Photographer Andre Ermolaev shot these images from the air, and they are actually aerial photos of Iceland’s rivers flowing through seemingly endless beds of volcanic ash.

andre ermolaev volcano

While these photos are mesmerizing, it is also worth noting that Iceland does have things that are volcanic in nature, despite its reputation for being one vast ice wasteland.  In fact, Iceland is actually home to no less than 30 active volcanic systems.

andre ermolaev

One will recall the violent eruption of the massive Grímsvötn volcano just last year that spit out approximately 120 million tons of ash in the first 48 hours and caused air traffic for days.  An eruption began on 21 May 2011, with 12 kilometer high plumes accompanied by several earthquakes, causing a cancellation of 900 flights in Iceland as well as in Greenland, Germany, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Norway.

volcanic ash iceland

A basaltic volcano, Grímsvötn has the distinction of having the highest eruption frequency of all the volcanoes found in Iceland. In other words, don’t be misled by the country’s name.

iceland volcanic ash

Of his oddly beautiful photographs Ermolaev says,

“Iceland is a wonderful country; I would even say that it is a true paradise for all the photo shooting-lovers. But 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. The photo represents the mouth of the river falling into the ocean. […] A little bit upstream there is a yellow-colored brook flowing into the river, but yellow currents fail to mix with the main water flow. One can estimate the scale judging by the car tracks that are clearly seen on the black sand. This is just a river, just a volcano, just our planet.”

volcano in iceland

Ermolaev’s images show miles and miles of rivers gushing through dark volcanic sands. It is a veritable display of patterns, colors and abstract shapes that are a dazzling subject for the camera. Ermolaev brilliantly captures these images of nature, showing how wonderful Iceland is.


View the entire set of images here.

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Patricia Ramos

Patricia Ramos

I am a freelance photographer who is no stranger to smudged lenses, long hours in front of the computer, heavy camera bags (and the back aches that ensued) and missing lens caps. If you know what I'm talking about, you probably have as much love and passion for photography as I do.