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Kolbeinsey Aerial 2020.jpg
Remainder of the island in August 2020
Kolbeinsey is located in North Atlantic
LocationGreenland Sea
Coordinates67°09′02″N 18°41′01″W / 67.15056°N 18.68361°W / 67.15056; -18.68361Coordinates: 67°09′02″N 18°41′01″W / 67.15056°N 18.68361°W / 67.15056; -18.68361
Location map of Kolbeinsey in Iceland
Kolbeinsey from the deck of RV Knorr, 2011

Kolbeinsey (Icelandic pronunciation: ​[ˈkʰɔlˌpeinsˌeiː]; also known as Kolbeinn's Isle, Seagull Rock, Mevenklint, Mevenklip, or Meeuw Steen)[1] is a small islet 105 kilometres (65 mi) off the northern coast of Iceland, 74 kilometres (46 mi) north-northwest of the island of Grímsey. The island is the northernmost point of Iceland and lies north of the Arctic Circle. It is named after Kolbeinn Sigmundsson from Kolbeinsdalur in Skagafjörður who is said to have broken his ship there and died with his men, according to Svarfdæla saga.[2] A basalt landform, devoid of vegetation, it is subject to rapid wave erosion and is expected to disappear in the near future. Erosion rate data from 1994 suggested that this would happen around 2020.[3] As of August 2020, two small sections of the island remain visible during low tide.[4]


The original size of the island is unknown. When it was first measured in 1616, its size was 700 metres (2,300 ft) from north to south and 100 metres (330 ft) east to west. By 1903, it had already diminished to half that size. In August 1985, the size was given as 39 metres (128 ft) across.[3] At the beginning of 2001, Kolbeinsey had reduced to an area of a mere 90 square metres (970 sq ft), which would correspond to the size of a circle of about 10.7 metres (35 ft) in diameter. The island had a maximum elevation of 8 metres (26 ft).

A helicopter landing site was constructed on the island in 1989[3] but efforts to strengthen the island have subsided in part because of agreements with Denmark over limits.[citation needed] In March 2006, it was stated that helicopters were no longer able to land on Kolbeinsey.[5] It had been found that almost a half of the helipad which was laid with concrete in 1989 had been destroyed when a large piece of rock separated from the rest of the island.

In August 2020, YouTuber Tom Scott published a video which confirmed the continued—albeit further eroded—existence of the island at low tide.[4]


A submarine eruption was reported in 1999 near the Kolbeinsey Ridge northwest of Grímsey. Kolbeinsey is the only subaerial expression of this portion of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. It formed during the late-Pleistocene or Holocene. Dredged glass shards indicate submarine eruptive activity during the late-Pleistocene until at least 11,800 radiocarbon years ago.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ringler, Dick (August 1996). "Jónas Hallgrímsson: Kolbeinn's Isle (Kolbeinsey)". University of Wisconsin–Madison. Retrieved 17 August 2020.
  2. ^ "Svarfdæla saga". www.snerpa.is. Retrieved 28 August 2020.
  3. ^ a b c Kristján Sæmundsson; Árni Hjartarson (1994). "Geology and erosion of Kolbeinsey". In Gísli Viggóson (ed.). Proceedings of the Hornafjörlur International Costal Symposium. Orkustofnun (National Energy Authority of Iceland). pp. 443–451. Archived from the original on 9 January 2006. Retrieved 11 April 2008.
  4. ^ a b Scott, Tom (August 17, 2020). Is The Most Northern Part Of Iceland Still There?. YouTube. Retrieved 17 August 2020.
  5. ^ "Flag by crash - no longer possible to land helicopters on the island". lhg.is. Archived from the original on 11 January 2016. Retrieved 2 August 2010.
  6. ^ "Kolbeinsey Ridge". Global Volcanism Program. Smithsonian Institution.

External links[edit]