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Rockslides on the Terminus of "Jokulsargilsjokull", Southern Iceland

December 31, 1991

On 10 November 1976, a 1.5 km × 0.5 km rockslide deposit on the surface of an unnamed outlet glacier of Mýrdalsjökull ice cap, southern Iceland, was observed from an aircraft. Deposits from two different rockslides, including the larger one observed on 10 November 1976, were visible on a 10 September 1978 aerial photograph of the unnamed outlet glacier. An analysis of vertical and oblique aerial photographs, Landsat images, and seismological records was used to establish the time of occurrence of the larger rockslide to a 30-day period between 9 September 1972 and 9 October 1972. The trigger mechanisms for the rockslide activity appear to have been heavy precipitation prior to the event and the decrease of buttressing mass at the base of the valley wall resulting from recession of the glacier (decrease in width and thickness). The recession led to instability of highly altered hyaloclastite bedrock, talus, and morainal materials on an oversteepened slope. An earthquake as a trigger mechanism was considered to be unlikely from a thorough review of seismic records. Measurements of the downglacier movement of the larger rockslide deposit give an average speed of the glacier as 30±3 m a-1 between September/October 1972 and 10 September 1978. From measurements of aerial photographs taken on 10 September 1978 and 4 September 1984, the average speed of the glacier increased to 45 m a-1 during this 6-year interval. Although the terminus of the unnamed outlet glacier had not yet begun to advance in 1986, it had undergone thickening since 1978.

Publication Year 1991
Title Rockslides on the Terminus of "Jokulsargilsjokull", Southern Iceland
DOI 10.2307/521018
Authors Oddur Sigurðsson, Richard S. Williams
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Geografiska Annaler, Series A: Physical Geography
Index ID 70195034
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center