#icecap

 

The glacier Mýrdalsjökull is a very strange beast in the flora of natural wonders in Iceland. As the fourth largest ice cap in Iceland, approximately 600 square kilometers in size, it puts its mark on all its neighbors in all directions.  It is the ever- percent beauty seen from the south shore at Sólheimasandur. It is a dominating part of the landscape from at the east side at Mýrdalssandur. On the north side in the Highland, it is on your south side when driving on the Fjallabaksleið Syðri at Mælifellssandur.  On the west site, it contributes to the magnificent landscape in the oasis Þórsmörk.  It displays the stunning background of snowy white mountains for enjoyment and beauty of the landscape. But despite all the beauty and peace, the glacier throws at us from all directions it has a very dark side, it is the home of one of the most destructive forces in the Icelandic nature, the dangerous volcano Katla.

The beauty hiding the beast

With its 200-meter thick ice cap, the glacier has often, throughout the centuries and through Iceland’s geological history, transformed into a great force when Katla has erupted. When the glowing magma contacts the ice all hell breaks loose when the layer of ice starts to melt and glacial water loaded with ash, sand, rocks and lava goes out of control.  This odd unity of contrasting forces has often transformed and changed the landscape on all sides of the glacier again and again.  Sometimes forming vast canyons like Markarfljótsgljúfur on the west side or totally destroying the whole landscape for thousands of square kilometers on the east.  The most horrible thing is the fact that this could occur at any time and is not necessarily part of a long gone accent history.  Currently, it is even predicted by our leading geologists that Katla is about to erupt; it is actually overdue.

There are many interesting places around Mýrdalsjökull

Notwithstanding the danger, there are many captivating places to visit around the glacier Mýrdalsjökull.  Sólheimajökull outlet glacier being one. It is even an interesting place to visit to take a tour on a snowmobile. Mind you that today the glacier and the terrifying volcano Katla are monitored by some of the most capable geologists on the plant with state of the art technology.  Whatever the outcome might be when Katla starts to melt Mýrdalsjökull with its surfacing magma, we will know in time enough to run away under the supervision of Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management in Iceland.

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Below is the location of Mýrdalsjökull glacier on the map of Iceland

The glacier Mýrdalsjökull is a very strange beast in the flora of natural wonders in Iceland.

Glaciers are a fascinating part of the Icelandic landscape.  Glaciers and Glacier tongues are often in such proximity to inhabited areas that they are an inseparable part of daily life.

​The interesting thing about glaciers

Katla under the glacier Mýrdalsjökull is an active volcano in the southern part of the Icelandic Highland.  “Active” in a geological sense is measured in tens and hundred of years of an interval between eruptions.  In the past, Katla has had the habit of erupting at least once-twice every century and has erupted twenty times since the Icelandic settlement in the tenth century. It has been a long time since the interval was as long as the current one. That is why Katla is monitored by the Icelandic Met Office and geologists around the clock all year round.

Katla long overdue volcano is roaring and might erupt at any time

 

The Vatnajökull Glacier in Southeast Iceland is Europe's largest glacier. The glacier covers an area of approximately 8.100 square km and the thickness of the ice cap ranging from about 400 to 1100 m. The subglacial landscape is a plateau with valleys, canyons, and gorges all hidden under the ice.  Formed thousands of years ago, Vatnajökull has approximately 30 outlet glaciers, or glacier tongues, flowing and bursting from the icecap as the ice crawls down to the lowland.  One of Iceland's main tourist attraction, Jökulsárlón, is a lagoon that feeds of one of the many glacier tongues, Breiðamerkurjökull (Wide Forest Glacier).  The glacier also hides some powerful and highly active volcanoes, including Bárðarbunga, Öræfajökull, and Grímsvötn that has the highest eruption frequency of all the volcanoes in Iceland.  Near Jökulsárlón lagoon and Fjallsárlón lagoon, there are interesting Ice caves that people can visit from November to March.  In the caves, where you can go under the edge of the glacier and have a view from down under.  It is truly a remarkable sight.

Eruption and humongous glacial bursts from under the glacier is constant fear factor

The latest eruption in Grímsvötn and by far the strongest for 100 years was in May 2011. It started with 12 km high plumes, followed by multiple earthquakes and an ash cloud rising to 20 km. Glacial bursts are quite common following eruptions and never cease to affect the live and amazement of Icelanders. They simply love their island's volatile and powerful nature, no matter what the consequences. Although the latest eruption connected to Vatnajökull did not occur under the ice cap but just north of the ice cap forming the new lava Holuhraun, it is very much part of the threat from the volcanoes under the glacier. The eruption occurred in August 2014 and was one of the larger ones in Iceland's history. So the glacier or the vast ice cap has many active threats and angry volcanos and could actually at any point produce some monumental disturbances in Iceland and possibly also in Europe.

The Ice Cap is melting away as global warming continues

For quite some years, Vatnajökull ice cap has been melting at a rate of one meter per year. Some of the glacier tongues have been melting even faster, like Skaftafellsjökull near the famous camping site Skaftafell in the South Region. But, Iceland has actually seen periods of warmer climate before (during the Middle Ages) where glaciers receded, only to reshape into their former glory when cooler period sets in. 
When you drive the Ring Road on a good day, you have the glacier Vatnajökull and all its might in front of you for hours.  It is a magnificent natural wonder and a joy to view against the blue sky.  Simply a beautiful sight adding to the pleasure of driving the Ring Road in Iceland

WHAT KIND OF CAR FITS FOR AN ICELAND ROAD TRIP?
Read this important article written by a local expert before you choose a car.

Below is the location of Vatnajökull on the map of Iceland

Vatnajökull Glacier is Europe's largest glacier.