Grimsvötn volcano (Iceland): subglacial meltwater flood started while top of glacier subsides 15 m

Thu, 2 Dec 2021, 17:10
17:10 PM | BY: T
Crevasses on the surface of the ice shield covering Grimsvötn volcano in Iceland (image: visir.is)
Crevasses on the surface of the ice shield covering Grimsvötn volcano in Iceland (image: visir.is)
Subsidence of the ice sheet above the volcano as of yesterday (image: Kristín Jónsdóttir @krjonsdottir / twitter)
Subsidence of the ice sheet above the volcano as of yesterday (image: Kristín Jónsdóttir @krjonsdottir / twitter)
The glacial flood (jökulhlaup) from Grímsvötn volcano has started. Meltwater has made its way under the glacier to its exit at the Gígjukvísl outlet river, whose water levels are now quickly increasing and were at approx. 1200 cubic meters per second earlier today. Scientists expect the flood to go on for days and reach its maximum in 4-6 days at values of around 4,000 cubic meters per second.
The modeled water discharge rate to release a total of about 1 cubic kilometer can be seen in this embedded graph:
Worries the flood might trigger volcanic eruption
On top of the volcano, the ice sheet has continued to drop and reached about 15 m in total subsidence. A crack has formed in this area, releasing fumarolic gasses and steam from the volcano underneath. Scientists are worried that the massive drop in pressure caused by the release of melt water might be able to trigger a volcanic eruption.
Einar Hjörleifsson from the Icelandic Meteorological Office explained in an interview with mbl.is that he does not rule out a volcanic eruption in the wake of the flood: "When all this water is pouring out, there is an immense pressure drop," he said, "and that is a scenario that we keep an eye on and monitor with all of our instruments."
The second most recent eruption of the volcano in 2004 did follow a glacial flood and is thought to have been triggered by it.

Previous news

Wed, 1 Dec 2021, 18:03
The IMO's webcam meltwater flow comparison taken on 28 Nov and 1 Dec (image: IMO)
As we reported in the latest report, the ice sheet on top of the volcano continues to subside. ... Read all
Wed, 1 Dec 2021, 08:06
On 24 November Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO) reported that the ice sheet in Gr ... Read all
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