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Mýrdalsjökull ice cap sits on top of 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’, which are termed ‘Katlahlaups’ (Katla Floods). Katlahlaups are frequent and powerful events and the proglacial landscape surrounding Mýrdalsjökull fingerprints their impact, both 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 eye witness accounts that document the occurrence of several sediment-laden Katlahlaups in recent times. 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 provide a model for ‘volcano-glacial’ jökulhlaups making the proglacial area surrounding Mýrdalsjökull an important type-site for volcano-glacial jökulhlaups. This paper provides an overview of our current understanding Katlahlaup impacts generated over the range of spatial and temporal scales.
Author(s): Russell AJ, Duller R, Mountney NP
Editor(s): Krüger J; Schomacker A; Kjær KH
Series Editor(s): van der Meer JJM
Publication type: Book Chapter
Publication status: Published
Book Title: The Mýrdalsjökull ice cap, Iceland: glacial processes, sediments and landforms on an active volcano
Series Title: Developments in Quaternary Sciences
Publisher: Elsevier Science
Place Published: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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