Is the beauty Öræfajökull glacier ready to unleash its ugly red-hot magma beast?

  • Öræfajökull glcier/volcano
Nov 2 2017

In recent months earthquake activity has increased in Öræfajökull the southernmost outlet glacier in Vatnajökull icecap. Just like the increased activity in Bárðarbunga outlet glacier on the northern part of Vatnajökull this development is quite intimidating.  Both outlet glaciers are also huge volcanos, and both have a humongous amount of ice on top. In addition to increased earthquake activity, scientists at the Icelandic MET office monitoring Vatnajökull icecap and both outlet glaciers, have noticed that the icecap is rising.  This could indicate that the underlying magma is pushing its way to the surface under the glacier. Both indicators, earthquakes, and rise of the icecap, point to a growing probability of an eruption.  And even though an eruption in Bárðabunga can produce a large disaster, an eruption in Öræfajökull will cause a monumental natural disaster. 

Öræfajökull along with Katla volcano are the most dangerous volcanoes in Iceland

The main difference between the two is the distance to inhabited areas whereas Bárðabunga is more or less in the remote highland, but Öræfajökull towers over Skaftafell National Park and many farms, hotels and tourist attractions.  In case of an eruption, large scale floods could occur in the many rivers coming from under the glacier tongues stretching out from the Öræfajökull outlet glacier. As the ice above the volcano is on average about 400 meters thick major floods, loaded with mud, rocks, and ash, are expected in a short period threatening and destroying everything in its path.  Possibly within an hour from the start of an eruption.  The ash from the eruption would also be similar or worse than the Eyjafjallajökull eruption. The scenario is similar only to the most feared volcano in Iceland, Katla.  Fortunately, Iceland has many capable scientists equipped with state of the art technology to monitor the situation and hopefully give us all time to respond if we are faced with the worst scenario.

Öræfajökull stratovolcano is like many of its relatives, a beauty, and a beast

Öræfajökull is a stratovolcano similar to Mt Rainier in Washington state and Mt Fujiyama in Japan. It is the highest mountain in Iceland 2110 meters.  The diameter of the crater is about 4 to 5 kilometers, so in case of magma entrance, there is a lot of space to spew lava and ash in all directions.  In the Icelandic landscape, Öræfajökull and surrounding area are among the most beautiful places in the country, so a large area could be affected for years to come.  Its next door neighbor Breiðamerkurjökull outlet glacier and provider of icebergs to the Jökulsárlón iceberg lagoon could be affected. One thing is clear if an eruption occurs in Öræfajökull glacier, it will be a large scale natural disaster as under this beauty lies a beast, a vast chamber full of glowing magma. At least that was the case in two of its last eruptions in 1362 and 1727.

Tours and things to do in the Southern Region in Iceland

Find an interesting tour in the Southern Region. A tour from Reykjavík or Reykjanesbær by the airport. A whale watching tour, a tour to the highland and much more.

Ice cave

Natural wonders, ice cave, icberg lagoon, northern lights

The south coast of Iceland is the home of some stunning natural wonders and spectacular places to visit.  This tour highlights the iceberg lagoon Jökulsárlón, the Diamond beach, a visit to an actual Ice cave, and the waterfall Seljalandsfoss.  As evening approaches on our way back to Reykjavík, we start looking for the Northern light’s and make a stop if we spot a glimpse of Aurora Borealis.


South Region in Iceland
A trip to an ice cave is indeed a unique experience

A trip to an ice cave is indeed a unique experience 

It gives you a chance to store in your memory a place you rarely have an opportunity to visit anywhere else.  It is a visit under the edge of a glacier tongue located at Vatnajökull National Park. You are practically inside Europe’s largest glacier experiencing the interaction of light and ice in a breathtaking way that words can barely describe.

Southern Region Iceland
2 Day South Coast Tour - Blue Ice cave - Jökulsárlón - and more

Blue Ice cave - Waterfalls - Jökulsárlón iceberg lagoon - Black Sands at Reynisfjara 

Join this tour along Iceland’s south coast to discover the unique landscape, natural blue Ice cave, glacier tongues, icebergs, lava fields, volcanos, black beaches, mighty rivers, and magic waterfalls.

Global Warming and Climate change adventure tour in Iceland

With a combination of travel and lectures, Geocamp Iceland and Hit Iceland offer a unique opportunity to get a view of and understand how climate change is affecting our planet in the form of a tour.  The trip takes you through exotic locations of volcanoes, glaciers, ice tongues, canyons, craters, lagoons, deep highland, small fishing towns, and other relevant and interesting places.  Our approach for this tour is based on geology, environmental science, and changes in nature.  We will also visit fishing villages to highlight how changes in the environment and natural resources affect various communities and their economy.

Golden Circle tour with Secret Lagoon

Step away from the crowd, the rush, and speed and enjoy the top sights and attractions in the south-western part of Iceland, without all the traffic. Take a convenient bus tour in a smaller bus and with a smaller group (max 16) at a time when fewer visitors are around. Why chase the crowds when you can enjoy the wonders of Iceland in a more friendly setting?  This peaceful excursion takes place in the afternoon and lasts into the evening and allows plenty of time to explore, view and photograph all the spectacular wonders.  And remember that evening in Iceland is bright during spring, summer and into the autumn. 

Þórsmörk tour

Þórsmörk is one of the most spectacular places in Iceland.  It is one of the most accessible areas in the Highland, a deep valley, and oasis cornered with glaciers on three sides.  It is truly a place of ice and fire as one of the glaciers; Eyjafjallajökull has recently erupted with glowing lava flowing into two parts of Þórsmörk.
2 presons minimum

Geysir hot spring in Haukadalur

This tour is operated from Reykjavík and offered to visitors in Reykjavík and the Capital City neighbors towns. The Golden Circle tour is the most popular adventure tour in Iceland and for many good reasons. It is a trip easily doable in a day from Reykjavík the capital of Iceland, a place most of our visitors begin their journey in Iceland, and also because the tour offers a stunning view of fascinating natural wonders. Also a tour of history and geology. History as the first stop is at Iceland’s most valued historical (and almost holy) places and Geology, as you will take a breath-taking look at the various states of earth’s most vital resource, water.  This tour has it all and takes you to lakes, rifts, geysers, waterfalls, rivers and glaciers.