The flash flooding which descended from Mýrdalsjökull and partially destroyed Route 1 was not caused by an eruption, scientists now say. Activity in the region also appears to be calming down.
As reported last Saturday, torrential floods coming down from Mýrdalsjökull last Friday night compelled emergency authorities to shut down the main highway east of Vík, and to evacuate everyone in the area while keeping others out.
Although there were initial concerns that this was the preface to the oft-speculated Katla megareuption that some have contended Iceland is due to receive, geologist Freysteinn Sigmundsson told RÚV that if it was an eruption causing the flooding, it wasn’t a major one. “This is not the so-called Katla Eruption that everyone has been waiting for. If it is an eruption, it’s a very small one.”
Indeed, seismic activity in the region did not seem to indicate anything major occurring, and now scientists have confirmed that there was no eruption after all. Rather, what occurred was a jökullhlaup, which is a sudden release of melt ice from under a glacier. This can be brought on by an eruption, but it can also be caused by steam vents or similar geological activity. Geologist Bryndís Brandsdóttir believes in this case, the jökullhlaup was not caused by an eruption.
Photos from the flooding area are available here.