A recently-discovered waterfall on the edge of Morsárjökull glacier, a part of Vatnajökull, is the highest in the country as confirmed by a scientific expedition last week, which concluded the waterfall is up to 240 meters high.
The Skeidarársandur plains with Vatnajökull in the background. The waterfall can be seen from there. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.
“Our measuring concludes that the waterfall is 227.3 meters high, not far from the 228 meters we estimated on June 12,” geologist Jón Vidar Sigurdsson told Morgunbladid. “The waterfall’s real height is just barely below 240 meters if we add the part that is hidden behind a snowdrift.”
Until now, Glymur in Hvalfjördur, west Iceland, has been considered the country’s highest waterfall with a height of 190 meters.
Sigurdsson traveled to Morsárjökull with Gudmundur Ögmundsson, the assistant of the ranger in Skaftafell, on June 29 to determine the waterfall’s height. The company Ísmark provided them with the measuring equipment.
They measured the waterfall’s height from three locations. It falls behind a large snowdrift and into a deep hollow behind it, which is estimated to be ten to 15 meters deep.
Pieces of ice constantly break off the glacier’s tail and fall off the cliff, so it is impossible to move right up to the waterfall to accurately measure the hollow’s depth.
The new waterfall can be observed from the peaks of Kristínartindar at a distance of approximately six kilometers.
People can also catch a glimpse of it when driving on the Ring Road, Iceland’s highway no. 1, on the Skeidarársandur plains at a distance of around 20 kilometers from the waterfall.
Sigurdsson and Ögmundsson advise people against hiking to the waterfall across the glacier unless they’re used to glacial hiking and have the necessary equipment: shoe picks and an ice axe.
A competition was held to name the new waterfall; 986 suggestions were received, sent by 1,991 contestants. Most contestants, 119, suggested Morsárfoss, followed by Klettafoss (“Rocky Falls”) and Morsi, each suggested by 56 contestants.
The waterfall’s name has yet to be determined, but three of the contestants who suggested the above names, chosen at random, received a special recognition, the book Saga-Steads – In the Footsteps of W.G. Collingwood by photographer Einar Falur Ingólfsson.
Sigurdsson himself was also presented with the book as recognition for his suggestion, Thrymur (“Thunderer”), which rhymes with Glymur. It originates in Norse mythology and refers to the thunderous sound created by pieces of glacial ice tumbling off the cliff.
Many of the suggestions related to the waterfall’s characteristics: its height, how it spreads out over the cliffs, how loud it is, how it flows from underneath a glacier and how it is half-hidden. Others relate to nearby place names.
Click here to read more about the waterfall.