Mývatn Mysterious White Colour Not So Mysterious Anymore - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Mývatn Mysterious White Colour Not So Mysterious Anymore

Published August 24, 2015

Photos by
Simisa/Wikimedia Commons

The cause of the mysterious white colour that was first spotted in the famous lake has been determined at last: hypoxia.

Last month, residents and visitors to Lake Mývatn noticed a 150-metre-wide swath of Mývatn’s water near the shore had an opaque milky colour. While at the time thought to be chemical pollution, the real reason for the discolouring appears to be a lack of oxygen in the water.

Biologist Dr. Árni Einarsson explained that, after extensive examination of water samples, the white colouring was determined to be caused by iron binding with colloidal particles in the water. This reaction occurs under special conditions related to the oxygen and pH levels.

The Environmental Agency of Iceland has been informed of the situation, as both Lake Mývatn and the nearby Laxá River are considered fragile ecosystems that are at risk of being irreparably damaged, by causes either natural or human.

It has not been reported how or even if the situation can be reversed.

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