Glacier flood poses environmental threat

Eldhraun lava field post-flood.

Eldhraun lava field post-flood. Photo: Þórir N. Kjartansson

Sedimentary deposits from the recent Skaftá glacier river flood pose an environmental threat, according to the Soil Conservation Service of Iceland (SCSI)

Flood waters inundated 60 km2 of farmland and inhabited areas in South Iceland early last month. There are now concerns that the sediment left behind could cause sand storms and dust pollution.

Furthermore, the sediment has made the ground in the Eldhraun lava field more dense, reducing its capacity to absorb water. If another flood occurs, waters are likely to flow further afield and cause greater disruption.

The SCSI recommends immediate action to counter the environmental hazard for inhabitants of the area.

It estimates the cost of necessary initial clear-up operations next spring at ISK 100 million (approx. €711,000), with more investment needed in subsequent years. SCSI does not have the money itself, so other sources of funding will need to be found.

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