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11 Volcanogenic Jökulhlaups (Glacier Outburst Floods) from Mýrdalsjökull: Impacts on Proglacial Environments

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Andrew RussellORCiD


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The Mýrdalsjökull ice-cap lies above Katla, one of Iceland's largest and most active subglacial volcanoes. Mýrdalsjökull and its outlet glaciers have been the source of numerous volcanically generated glacier outburst floods or 'jökulhlaups', termed 'Katlahlaups' (Katla floods). The impact of frequent and powerful Katlahlaups on the proglacial landscape surrounding Mýrdalsjökull can be felt in terms of their geomorphological and sedimentary legacy, over a range of time spans. The efficiency of subglacial volcanic activity to generate a near-instantaneous supply of water and sediment is demonstrated by historic records and eyewitness accounts. Future Katlahlaups pose a significant hazard to surrounding communities and infrastructure. Within the marine environment, large-scale erosional and depositional impacts reflect cumulative evidence of jökulhlaup activity, highlighting the importance of Katlahlaups as a major source of sediment to the North Atlantic. Katlahlaups make the proglacial area surrounding Mýrdalsjökull an important type-site for volcano-glacial jökulhlaups and megafloods in general. © 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Russell A, Duller R, Mountney N

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: Developments in Quaternary Science

Year: 2009

Volume: 13

Pages: 181-207

ISSN (print): 1571-0866

ISSN (electronic):


DOI: 10.1016/S1571-0866(09)01311-6