Scattered ice fragments.

The outflow of the jökulhlaup at the terminus of Skaftárjökull


During a field expedition to Skaftárjökull on Thursday 1 October, one could see from several km distance that the jökulhlaup had burst through the glacier at several locations 1-2 km from the terminus early Thursday night. Dark bands of debris that had sedimented from the flood waters extended down the terminus where the jökulhlaup had flowed.

Ice fragments were scattered over the surface of the glacier, a few tens of cm in size near the terminus but up to 3-5 m high and 10 m long blocks close to the outflow points where the water had burst through the ice. Photos below as well as in another photo article.

Ice blocks
Ice blocks close to the outflow points. Photo: Tómas Jóhannesson.

The flood waters appear to have flowed through the glacier for some time and concentrated in one or more circular channels that the flow melted through the glacier.

""  An outflow point where the water burst through the ice. Photo: Tómas Jóhannesson.

The flow up through the glacier did not last long, though, and when the terminus area was examined shortly after noon on Thursday, the jökulhlaup flowed out of six or seven main outlets at the terminus onto the sandur plain east of Langisjór and one outlet west of the sandur. More photos in another article.

The outburst of this jökulhlaup in Skaftá through the terminus areas of Skaftárjökull glacier appears in many was similar to the start of the much larger jökulhlaup from Grímsvötn through Skeiðarárjökull in Vatnajökull in 1996 except that the breakup of the ice in 1996 was much more dramatic and the ice blocks correspondingly larger.

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