Skaftárkatlar á Vatnajökli.

Minor jökulhlaup in Skaftá

a small glacial outburst flood


During the last 24 hours, the level of the Skaftá river at Sveinstindur has risen significantly. These observations suggest that a glacial outburst flood (jökulhlaup) is in progress.

It is likely that the flood originates from the western Skaftá ice cauldron, which last drained in June 2015; however this is unconfirmed until visual observations are made. The discharge of Skaftá at Sveinstindur is presently 270 cubic metres per second.

The flood is not expected to cause any downstream disruption, although the following points should be kept in mind:

  • Hydrogen sulphide is released from the floodwater as it drains from the Vatnajökull ice-cap. The gas is particularly potent at the ice margin, where concentrations will reach poisonous levels. Travellers must stay away from the edges of Skaftárjökull and Tungnaárjökull while the flood occurs.
  • Crevasses will develop rapidly around the ice cauldron, so travellers on Vatnajökull should stay away from the region.

The nature hazard specialist of the IMO are monitoring the progress of this event.

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