Thousands of tons of landmass collapsed down onto a plain by the ocean on the uninhabited island Bjarnarey of the Westman Islands archipelago around 4 am yesterday morning. The landslide transformed the island’s landscape.
The Westman Islands. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.
A fisherman witnessed the catastrophe. Columns of water rose high into the sky when the nearly 50-meter wide landslide, which collapsed from the 120-meter high cliff, hit the plain below, visir.is describes.
A large chunk of the island’s vegetation disappeared in the landslide. Where the waves used to crash against a cliff there is now a rocky scree, which extends 100 meters out from the cliff. The largest boulders are believed to weigh as much as 50 tons.
A cave, which was a characteristic of the island, has disappeared, as has part of the puffin nesting area. The island is now larger but lower. The landslide fell between the main points of entry for bird hunters, so they can still access their hunting grounds.
This is the third and largest landslide in Bjarnarey within a short period of time. The island was also hit by landslide after the south Iceland earthquake of 2000. It is now being investigated whether there is risk of further landslides.
Click here to see pictures of the landslide.