Island Mountains’ Glacier or rather its mountain range is among the
highest of the country, 5500 feet (1666m).
It derives its name from the Island Archipelago off the south
coast, The Vestman Islands.
This mountain massif is actually the result of continuous
eruptions during thousands of years and a vast crater on top has
probably been active a few times during historic times of this country.
The only documented eruptions took place in 920,
1612, which was seen all
the way to the northern part of the country, and during the period
The latter two eruptions caused at least damage to property by glacier
bursts (floods) and ash fall.
The latter caused a three hours’ flood, covering the wide
valley floor north of the mountain.
Before and around the turn of the last century, an increased
earthquake activity and escaping gasses were watched closely.
This volcano, and many others, is within the most active 50 miles
wide zone of the country.
On March 20th 2010 (spring equinox), shortly before
midnight, a half a kilometre long fissure opened up and an eruption
started just to the west of the hiking trail in mountain pass
Fimmvorduhals. Earthquakes and
tremours had been monitored since the summer of 2009, and the
authorities were well prepared for the measures to be taken in case of
an eruption. People were temporarily evacuated from the area and
roads were closed. They were opened again in the afternoon.
Scientists say, that this erution probably will count among the small
ones. Lava started flowing across the hiking trail, down into the
Hrunagil gorge on the 22nd, melting snow and causing temporary swelling
of river Krossa. The trail is thus closed and it depends on the
duration of the eruption, when it will be passable again.
On March 31st, a NW-SE eruptive fissure opened up a bit
further northwest of the original crater, which remained active.
Molten lava flowed from the new fissure down into the Hvannargil gorge
further north and added to the lava volume. The police and the
rescue corps present decided to evacuate the eruption area. In the
evening, it was decided to evacuate the Godaland and Thorsmork areas as
well and close access to them for the time being. The whole
mountain was unstable, and noone knew what would and could happen next. Those who visit the area have to
be aware of the
risk involved and be prepared for the worst.
April 13th - 14th 2010. No emission of lava
from the fissure of March 31st. Eruption pause or end.
April 14th 2010. Shortly after midnight the mountain massif
Eyjafjoll's caldera started erupting. Flood waves rushed in two
directions, mainly to the north into river Markarfljot's wide valley,
threatening farm communities and communications on rd #1, which was
removed partly to save a relatively new bridge. Approximately 700
people were evacuated from their homes. The flood wave to the
south threatens an inabited area around farm Thorvaldseyri, and will
cause damage to rd #1, fields and meadows. The westerly winds
carried ash and tephra eastwards, where large areas were covered.
It is expected that the tephra distribution might disturb air
communications to Northern Europe (Scandinavia).
May 3rd 2010. The last few days, one crater has been active
in one of the ice cauldrons. Lava has been flowing to the north
under the glacier tongue Gigjokull and increasing meltwater on the
outwash plain. Today the temperature of the main glacial river,
Markarfljot, was measured 11-17°C at the old bridge (1934).
A German research plane flew to the southeast along the ash plume, which
is carried at relarively low altitudes (>20 thousand feet), and reported hight density of
the ash all the way down to the latitude 60°N, which might cause some
disruptions of flights. Airports in Ireland and Scotland were
closed as a result (May 4th and 5th).
According to scientists, the eruption is now more intense than in the
beginning, but the ash (tephra) distribution is less likely to cause
trouble because of coarser particles.
May 23rd 2010. The eruption has been dwindling during the
week. A reporter flew over the crater in the afternoon and saw no
sign of activity. The volcano has paused or the eruption is over.
icecap on top is the sixth largest of the country, and is relatively
easily accessible from the mountain saddle Fimmvorduhals, the farms
Seljavellir and Mork, and from the north at Stakkolt and Langanes.
Nowadays it is not considered a great deed or too much of an
adventure to conquer the glaciers in specially equipped and modified
jeeps or other vehicles.
A small Lada has even conquered this one.
glacier tongues fall steeply down to the foot of the northern slopes,
The Gigjokull and The Steinsholtsjokull.
Both created lagoons, where it usually is possible to see some
In 1967 a part of a precipice called Innstihaus, about 15 million
cubic metres, broke of and collapsed on top of the glacier and into the
lagoon from about 900 feet above.
This catastrophe caused a tremendous flood wave, carrying with it
gigantic rocks and boulders all the way down to the main river,
Markarfljot, which peaked at 21.000 cubic metres per second.
Right at the beginning of the 2010 eruption (March 20th), the Gigjokull
lagoon was filled with alluvium, when meltwater came rushing down to the
aircraft have crashed on the icecap.
In 1952 an American rescue plane, with five on board, went down
and only one body was found on location.
The other four obviously had survived and walked away, not to be
found during the next few years.
Twelve years later, another body was found and a wedding ring of
The glacier tongue delivered the remaining three bodies in the
summer of 1966.
Scrap and pieces from the plane have been appearing gradually in
and by the sides of the glacier.
In 1975, an American couple crashed and lost their lives.