oil on canvas, 60cm x 60cm, Iain White 2009, £250
The vast black sand flats of Mýrdalssandur, east of Vík, are formed from material washed out from underneath Mýrdalsjökull during Katla eruptions. This 700-sq-km desert is bleak and desolate (some say haunted). It looks to be lifeless, but arctic foxes and seabirds are common sights. Here at the western end of the sandur the snow covered slopesof Höfðabrekuheidi and Hafursey rise towards the icecap of Mýrdalsjökull.
Since 1988 efforts have been made, by the Soil Conservation Service, to reduce sandstorms by re-vegetation of the sandplains. Action includes sowing strips of Nootka lupin Lupinis nootkathensis, and lyme grass Elymus arenarius and other grasses, with repeated fertilization.
In July 2011 a flash flood swept away the bridge across Múlakvísl river on Mýrdalssandur making the Ring Road impassable between Höfðabrekka from the west, and Skálm from the east.