Mýrdalsjökull glacier and Eyjafjallajökull glacier in South iceland
There are many glaciers in Iceland, some of the highest and biggest once are located nearby the south and the southeast coast. The main reason for the glaciers there is humid air coming in from the south, hitting the mountain areas by the coast, making the air concentrate and forming a lot of precipitation on the mountain tops. Iceland being a rather cold place most of the precipitation falls as snow on the mountain tops, even during the summer sometimes
Eyjafjöll and Eyjafjallajökull
The mountain areas on the southernmost part of Iceland are called Eyjafjöll and Mýrdalur.
Eyjafjöll is about the area from Seljalandsfoss waterfall in the west to the river Jökulsá á Sólheimasandi in the east. The name Eyjafjölli means Island-Mountains, the name mostly related to the Vestmannaeyjar islands outside the south coast.
The Eyjafjallajökull (island-mountain-glacier) is probably one of the most famous glaciers in Iceland due to a volcanic eruption in the glacier in 2010.
The volcanic eruption in Eyjafjallajökull did cost a lot of trouble for the air traffic on the northern hemisphere, because of the humongous mass of volcanic ash that came out from Eyjafjallajökull and spread out to the south and to Europe.
The Eyjafjallajökull is not believed to have erupted often since the settlement time of Iceland, for the past 1200 years. There are maybe three or four volcanic eruptions known since that time. One from the settlement time or so and another one in around the year 1612, the next one in the year 1823 and the last one in 2010.
Eyjafjallajökull glacier is around 1650 meters high and on the top of the glacier is a small crater around 2,5 wide. The glacier is only about 80 km2 in area, making it the 6th largest glacier in Iceland in the area.
Mýrdalsjökull and Sólheimajökull glacier
The Mýrdalsjökull glacier is the next glacier east from the Eyjafjallajökull glacier. The Mýrdalsjökulll is in a way very different from Eyjafjallajökull mainly because of the different mountain area under the glacier ice. Mýrdalsjökull is the fourth largest glacier in Iceland about 600 km2 in area and the Sólheimajökull glacier tongue flowing from the south part of Mýrdalsjökull is the southernmost glacier in Iceland.
The highest point of Mýrdalsjökull is Goðabunga (the hill of the gods) around 1510 meters high and the second highest is the Háabunga (the high hill) around 1350 meters high. Most of the glacier ice is covering and filling up the giant caldera underneath the glacier. The average thickness of the glacier ice is around 200 meters thick, the thickest part around 740 meters.
The Mýrdalsjökull glacier is like Eyjafjallajökull glacier covering a volcano. Underneath the Mýrdalsjökull is the volcano Katla one of the biggest and most dangerous volcanoes in Iceland, the caldera is around 110 km2 in area, the second largest in Iceland. Kalta is also one of the most active volcanoes in Iceland with a volcanic eruption on average every 60 years. The last big volcanic eruption in Katla was in 1918, but since then Katla has been queried, with probably two or three minor volcanic eruptions in 1955 and 2011, both did not melt through the ice cap and therefore did not cause the same troubles as Eyjafjallajökull did in 2010. There where only small glacial outbursts (jökulhlaup) that came out from underneath the Mýrdalsjökull, during these small eruptions.
So we are still waiting for the next big volcanic eruption in Kalta and it is hard to say when or if it will happen, the scientist are monitoring the volcano as they can so hopefully we will have at least few days of notice before the volcanic eruption will start.
It is though interesting fact that Eyjafjallajökull volcano and the volcano Katla have in the past had some connection. It is believed that Eyjafjallajökull erupted in around the year 1612 and Katla did erupt around the same time. The same happened in the year 1821 when Katla erupted and Eyjafjallajökull volcano followed in 1823.