Iceland Glacial Outburst Flood Releases Toxic Fumes Skip to content

Iceland Glacial Outburst Flood Releases Toxic Fumes

Employees of the Icelandic Met Office who traveled to the source of the river Vestari-Jökulsá in Hofsjökull glacier in the central highlands yesterday have issued a warning of toxic hydrogen sulfur fumes, the result of a minor glacial outburst flood that began on Wednesday.

glacier_psArchive photo: Páll Stefánsson/Iceland Review.

The area around the source of the river in Sátujökull outlet glacier smells strongly of sulfur, Morgunblaðið reports.

Their studies indicate that geothermal water from underneath the glacier—the exact location has yet to be pinpointed—has mixed with glacial melt water, resulting in a minor glacial outburst flood.

Increased water flow in Vestari-Jökulsá has been confirmed, although the river hasn’t swelled to any significant extent. Minor glacial outburst floods are rather common in the area.

Hydrogen sulfur is carried with the flood when it bursts out from underneath the glacier. The chemical can damage the mucous membrane of the eyes and respiratory tract.

The Icelandic Met Office strongly advises travelers to stay away from the source of Vestari-Jökulsá until the glacial outburst flood has subsided.


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