A glacial flood, also known as jökulhlaup, started yesterday from the Eastern Skaftárketill reservoir in the Vatnajökull glacier. As a result, the Department of Civil Defense issued an alert in the area yesterday at noon.
The glacial flood from the eastern cauldron of Skaftarketill followed another flood from the western basin that began on 2 September.
There have been no East Boiler floods since 2018, and this flood is expected to be about the same magnitude as that year. The 2015 flood was significantly larger and caused more damage.
Jökullaup in the Skafta River originates in a geothermal zone under the ice-cap depressions of the Vatnajökull glacier called Skaftarkatlar. These depressions form when geothermal heat melts the ice. As soon as the amount of ice that has melted and accumulated there reaches a certain level, a flash flood occurs.
In such floods, the Icelandic Meteorological Office says the melt water first flows 40 km (25 mi) under the ice cap and then 28 km (17 mi) along the Skafta River before reaching Mount Sveinstindur. From there, the flood waters will take about 10 hours to reach the ring road near Asar near Eldvatn.
Björn Oddsson, a geophysicist with the Department of Civil Defense and Emergency Management, said flood waters are expected to reach the ring road tonight.
He argues that residents have time to react. "The people who live and travel here know exactly where the flooding caused by the release of the Skafta Glacier occurs." The South Iceland Police Department is monitoring and directing operations in the area.
Roads in the area may be closed, and large amounts of silt and dirt may spread throughout the area and be carried away by the wind when the area dries up.