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Is the Blue Lagoon a Wonder of the World? The Blue Lagoon: why is it so special?
In 2012, National Geographic published a list of Wonders of the World, which they subtitled ‘Earth’s Most Awesome Places.’
National Geographic bestowed honors on 25 natural wonders divided into three categories: Sky, Land, and Water. The Sky category featured such beauties as California’s soaring redwood trees and majestic Mount Everest. The Land category gave plaudits to Arizona’s Grand Canyon, North Africa’s Sahara Desert, and Hawaii’s volcanoes.
The Blue Lagoon was included in the Water category and shared this recognition with esteemed company, including Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, the Norwegian fjords, Lake Baikal in Siberia, and Victoria Falls in southern Africa.
The Blue Lagoon: a wonder for its water
Want to know why National Geographic awarded The Blue Lagoon a place on such a list? The answer lies in the category in which it was included: Water.
The Blue Lagoon’s geothermal seawater is 70% ocean water and 30% freshwater, enriched with silica, algae, and minerals. Not only is it a delight simply to soak in, it heals, rejuvenates, and nourishes.
We’ll give the official word to National Geographic, as it describes the wonder of The Blue Lagoon’s water:
Iceland straddles the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates are pulling apart. Upwelling magma built the island and heats its vast reservoirs of water, creating a geothermal paradise. First among the country’s many simmering geothermal pools is the Blue Lagoon, a turquoise vision in a black basaltic moonscape. The geothermal spa is fed by seawater 6,500 feet (1,981 m) beneath the surface, where it reaches a searing 464⁰F (240⁰C). Capturing silica and other minerals on its way to the surface, it emerges from the ground at a balmy 100⁰F (38⁰C), just right for pampering visitors.
National Geographic Wonders of the World, 2012
The Blue Lagoon is blue because of the way silica—the lagoon’s iconic and most abundant element—reflects visible light when suspended in water.
All matter reflects visible light. Depending on the molecular structure of a given entity, it reflects a specific color of visible light. Red paint, for example, is red because it is engineered to reflect only the red wavelengths of visible light. All the other wavelengths—or colors—are absorbed by the paint. To grasp this concept, it is useful to understand the nature of visible light. Visible light is the spectrum of electromagnetic energy that can be perceived by the human eye. It moves at 300,000 meters per second in waves that are approximately the size of a pinhead. Further, the entire color spectrum of visible light is encompassed by white light. This can be shown with the aid of a prism, which allows us to effortlessly split white light into a rainbow of colors, each color corresponding to a specific wavelength.
When visible light encounters matter, its behavior is dependent on the wavelength of the light and the molecular structure of the matter. In general, the various wavelengths are either absorbed or reflected. The reflected colors are what we see. The absorbed colors are invisible.
Returning to silica—a mineral compound consisting of silicon and oxygen with the chemical signature SiO²—it is apparent that when this bioactive mineral is suspended in water, it reflects only the blue wavelengths of visible light. The rest of the colors are absorbed. Thus, the Blue Lagoon is blue.