Glacial flood on the Skaftá River

As reported by, the flooding began on the Skaftá River in southeastern Iceland. Accordingly, the Department of Civil Protection and Crisis Management has announced the level of uncertainty in the area, which means that monitoring of the area has increased.

The department warns on its website that hydrogen sulfide pollution can occur during such a flood, which can be harmful to the mucous membranes of the respiratory system and the eyes. In addition, rivers can overflow from their banks and flood nearby roads. Tourists are strongly advised to stay clear of the Skaftá River bed above the Skaftárdalur Valley, as well as the edge of the Skaftárjökull, Tungnárjökull and Síðujökull glaciers during floods.

Since Monday, the electrical conductivity of the river has been increasing gradually, and yesterday the water level in the Sveinstindur mountain has risen. There have also been reports of a perceptible sulfur odor.


The glacial flood (jökulhlaup) on the Skaftá River originates in a geothermal area beneath the depressions in the Vatnajökull glacier cap, known as Skaftárkatlar. These depressions form when geothermal heat melts the ice. When the amount of melted ice water reaches a certain level, a flood occurs. This time it is believed that the floods originated from the western depression of Skaftárketill, and according to the Icelandic Meteorological Institute, these floods are usually smaller than those coming from the eastern side.

Yesterday at noon, the water flow through the Sveinstindur mountain was 290 m3 / s, but the maximum flow should not exceed 750 m3 / s.

Hulda Rós Helgadóttir, natural hazards specialist at the Icelandic Meteorological Institute, says that the flow and water level on Mount Sveinstindur have been constant for several hours. “It is too early to say if the flood has reached its maximum” – he notes. It always takes several hours for the water to move further downstream. Some rise in water level has been detected in Kirkjubæjarklaustur and Eldvötn.

The Meteorology Institute has not yet received any reports of material damage caused by the flood. It monitors the situation day and night. At yesterday’s meeting, it decided that there was no need to evacuate or close the roads for now.

Source: Yle





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