Grímsvötn Eruption May Not Cause Large Flood Skip to content

Grímsvötn Eruption May Not Cause Large Flood

Geophysicist Magnús Tumi Gudmundsson said the current eruption in Vatnajökull has not been accurately placed yet, although it is clear that it is in Grímsvötn—lakes in the western part of the glacier that lie on top of a volcanic magma chamber.


Grímsvötn on a quiet day. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.

The water level of Grímsvötn is very low. The eruption melts some ice but mainly thin ice. Therefore a large flood is not likely, Gudmundsson reasoned in an interview with

Even though a Grímsvötn flood would be of the same magnitude as that caused by Eyjafjallajökull last year, it would not be as serious. No bridges or other constructions would be at risk, Gudmundsson said.

“However, there is full reason to be on the alert, monitor the rivers and find out what is happening,” he added, explaining that it is still unknown whether the eruption is in a crevasse which stretches underneath thick glacial ice—there are many uncertain factors.

Gudmundsson does not expect extensive lava flow and explained that all lava flow will occur within Grímsvötn after the volcanic channel has emptied itself and no water comes in contact with it anymore. “Eruptions in Grímsvötn are mainly ash eruptions.”

The current eruption has no direct links with those of last year in Fimmvörduháls and Eyjafjallajökull. “These eruptions all have their own rhythm,” he said.

“I cannot see that Katla and Eyjafjallajökull on the one hand, Hekla on the other and Vatnajökull as a third case have any direct connections between them,” Gudmundsson concluded.

Please note: The next issue of the print edition of Iceland Review will include extensive coverage of the eruption. If you subscribe now, you will receive a photo book by IR editor/photographer Páll Stefánsson of the eruption in Eyjafjallajökull as a gift.

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Follow for further news updates of the eruption. If you have any photos of the current Grímsvötn eruption and would like to see them published, please send them to [email protected] and [email protected].

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