Saga hugmynda um aldur Islands

Translated title of the contribution: History of opinions on the age of Iceland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper traces the history of ideas regarding the geological "age of Iceland', as determined primarily from plant fossils exposed in the older lava sequences of the island. The first statement on this age to become generally known among geologists, was that of the great Swiss paleontologist Oswald Heer (1809-1883). Heer's opinion was of a Lower Miocene age for fossil outcrops in the Northwest peninsula of Iceland. Heer also studied a number of other fossil floras from the Arctic and from Britain, finding almost all of them to be either Miocene or Mesozoic. A dispute developed in 1878-79 between Heer and the British geologist J. Starkie Gardner (1844-1930) who was studying fossil localities in South England. He claimed that the British and Arctic floras were much more likely to be Eocene than Miocene. Gardner's conclusions on the age of South England floras were generally accepted very soon, and in the following decades new fossil discoveries supported the view of an Eocene age for the Northern British and Arctic areas. New paleontological and palynological work on Icelandic material by Askelsson (1946) and Pflug (1956, 1959) appeared to confirm an Eocene or even older age. This view hence prevailed through the critical early years of continental drift revival, and was not refuted until mid-Miocene K-Ar dates on the older lava series in Iceland appeared in 1967-68. Along with certain other persistent erroneous conceptions of the geology of Iceland, the view of an Eocene age may have delayed the general acceptance of sea floor spreading by local scientists. -from English summary

Translated title of the contributionHistory of opinions on the age of Iceland
Original languageIcelandic
Pages (from-to)45-64
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 1992


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