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Volcanogenic glacier outburst floods (jökulhlaups) from Mýrdalsjökull: impacts on proglacial environments.

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Andrew RussellORCiD


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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.

Publication metadata

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

Year: 2009

Volume: 13

Pages: 181-208

Edition: 1

Series Title: Developments in Quaternary Sciences

Publisher: Elsevier Science

Place Published: Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9780444530455