Skaftá Flooding Has Begun

Skaftá Flooding Has Begun

Photos by
Laurent Deschodt/Wikimedia Commons

Published September 8, 2016

The river Skaftá is flooding at a rate greater than what rain or melting glacial ice could account for, indicating that there are likely seismic causes at play.

The Icelandic Met Office has announced the following:

“The flow of the river Skaftá near Sveinstind has been increasing since 16:00 yesterday, September 7. Summer run-off from glaciers or rain cannot account for this great a flow. This means that a Skaftá glacial flood has likely begun. The flow near Sveinstind is now at about 270 m³ per second, or greater than the largest glacial run-off from the summer. The flood likely originates from the West Skaftáketill caldera, which last flooded out in June 2015. The flood has reached near populated areas, bringing with it a strong scent of sulphur, and witnesses say that the river is very dark in colour.”

Glacial floods can be caused by any number of factors – rising lava, eruptions, steam vents or newly opened hot springs can all cause glacial ice to quickly melt, accumulate under the glacier, and then release. The effects can range from minor flooding to powerful destructive forces. It should be noted that Skaftá’s source is the Skaftárjökull region of Vatnajökull, and is not connected to the Katla volcano that has been making headlines lately.

The Grapevine will keep readers updated as developments arise.


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