Glacier Breidamerkurjokull counts among the largest glacier tongues of
the country. Its ice-flow has a southerly direction from the
main firn of icecap Vatnajokull and carves the landscape on its way.
Two large nunataks, Mavabyggdir and Esjufjoll, create middle moraines
as well as other smaller ones.
Presumably the wide and long valley, now filled with ice, was ice-free
during the so-called Saga-period, and most of the icecap developed
during the cold latter part of the Middle Ages and the Little Ice Age.
The Saga of Njall the wise tells us about at least one farm in that
valley, Breidamork, at the time.
Up to the turn of the 19th
century, the glacier tongue advanced until only 200 metres remained
between its edge and the sea. Since then it has retreated
considerably, especially after 1930, and the greater part of the
Glacial Lagoon developed after that. The ice-free stretch
between the ice-edge and the sea has not widened proportionally,
because of the constant natural transport of sand from the beach.
River Jokulsa grows shorter by the day and one day the bridge might
collapse and close the ring road. Measures have been taken to
prevent or delay this development, but it remains to be seen, how
effective they are. If nature has its way, a bay is going to
develope there, and if the reatreat of the glacier continues, the bay
is going to get longer and deeper.
The Iceland Glaciological Society owns two huts in the area, one on
the outwash plain near the lagoon, and another on the nunatak
Esjufjoll. Sometimes research expeditions start from the former.
(Saga trail South Iceland)