Geologically speaking, Iceland is a very young country. Fewer fossils are found here than in many other countries. No skeletons of giant land animals have been found in Iceland, but the fossilised remains of plants and sea creatures can be found scattered around the island.
The oldest fossils in Iceland are from the Miocene Epoch, around 15 million years old. These fossils are mainly plants: impressions of leaves, carbonised plant remains, pollen grains, compressed logs, and lignite coal. They have mainly been found in the northwest part of Iceland. Sedimentary strata to the southeast grow ever younger as they approach the volcanic zone.
Many Late Pleistocene and Holocene marine sediment strata in Iceland contain shells, conches, and foraminifera. These strata are often unconsolidated. In some areas, particularly where sediments are rich in tephra, they are consolidated.
Icelandic nature conservation law prohibits the removal of fossils from the location at which they were found, except with the express permission of the Ministry for the Environment. Iceland’s fossils represent an important and unique part of its geological heritage. Removing or disturbing fossils can damage them, and important information about their locality is lost.