Extreme Floods Created Dettifoss Canyon Skip to content

Extreme Floods Created Dettifoss Canyon

By Iceland Review

Jökulsárgljúfur, a 28-kilometer long, 100-meter deep canyon in Northeast Iceland, was created by several days of extreme flooding separated by thousands of years, geologists writing in journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) have discovered.

Dettifoss, Europe’s most powerful waterfall, is located in the canyon. The flooding also caused Dettifoss and two other waterfalls in the canyon to move upstream by as much as two kilometers, bbc.com reports.

The scientists were able to come to the conclusion after they analyzed the chemistry of rocks in the canyon’s walls and created a timeline. The brief but catastrophic flooding occurred two, five and nine million years ago, proving that landscapes are not necessarily formed over long periods of time.

The floods were triggered by eruptions in volcanoes such as Bárðarbunga, which is currently active. Since the ongoing eruption in Holuhraun began more than five months ago, scientists have maintained that another eruption as well as resulting major flooding is possible.

Sign up for our weekly newsletter

Get news from Iceland, photos, and in-depth stories delivered to your inbox every week!

* indicates required

Subscribe to Iceland Review

In-depth stories and high-quality photography showcasing life in Iceland!