Jhokulhlaup Essay

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Iceland is located in the North Atlantic sea, near the arctic circle. Iceland is 40,000 square miles large, which is approximately the size of Virginia and Kentucky combined. Only around 20 percent of the island is inhabited, and it is smallest country in Europe based on population (Geography). Some refer to the island as the land of fire and ice due to the presence of both glaciers and volcanoes (Gunnarsdóttir, Nanna, 2016). Volcanoes can even be found beneath glaciers. Glaciers cover more than 10% of Iceland’s land area. The combination of both volcanoes and a large number of glaciers make Iceland very susceptible to Jökulhlaups.
From late September through early October 1996, Iceland experienced their largest volcanic eruption since 1967.
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A Jökulhlaup is an Icelandic term used to describe a glacial outburst flood. A Jökulhlaup occurs when trapped or damned water in or around the glacier is suddenly released due to volcanic activity or geothermal heating (Pagli, Carolina, 2016). Jökulhlaup’s can also carry fragmented ice and volcanic material. On November 4th, the Grimsvötn tremor occurred. This is believed to be the main cause of the Jökulhlaup. It was not until 35 days after the initial eruption that the lake drained in a Jökulhlaup. The Jökulhlaup lasted for about 40 hours, but did not cause large amounts of damage. 3.4 km3 was the total volume of flood water released during the flood. At one point, the flood reached 55,000 m3/s, making it the second largest river in the world (Maizels, Judith, 2016). One million tons of dissolved solids and 180 million tons of suspended solids were taken to sea during the 40-hour long flood. It carried small fragments of the glacier all the way to the sea. The surface area of all the solids transported is unknown (Maizels, Judith, 2016). This was the first Jökulhlaup to occur in over 60 years. The flood drained into the Skeidarársandur flood plain, and then into the Atlantic Ocean. The Skeidarársandur flood plain was formed by melt-water

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