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Glacial Flood Underway in South Iceland

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Glacial Flood Underway in South Iceland

Map of Vatnajökull

Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

A jökulhlaup (glacial flood) began yesterday in South Iceland in the Skaftá river.

According to the Icelandic Met Office the flood is comparatively small and is believed to be coming from the western Skaftá crater, which last flooded in January 2014. This cannot be confirmed, however, until a reconnaissance flight takes place over the area.

Water flow has increased overnight and at midnight it was around 170 cubic meters a second at Sveinstindur—increasing to 183 cubic meters by 06.00.

Hilmar Hróðmarsson from the Met Office told RÚV that he is not making a big deal of the flood. “This is a very small event. We’ll just monitor it, but I don’t expect there is any danger.”

Though a flight over the area is hoped for later today, there is not good visibility in the area due to clouds.

Though the seismic event may cause some gas pollution, it is not believed there is any danger to road bridges.

People are recommended to steer clear of Skaftárjökull, Tungnárjökull and Síðujökull—all outlet glaciers on the west of Vatnajökull—while the flood continues.

A jökulhlaup is a flash flood caused by volcanic heat melting ice underneath glaciers, which is suddenly released.

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