Watch Gígjökull Glacier Glide on Volcanic Ash
Gígjökull is one of the two glacier outlets from the glacier volcano Eyjafjallajökull, while the other being Steinholtsjökull. Gígjökull is a 7.5 km long crater glacier situated in the southern part Iceland. This glacier drains north from the Eyjafjallajökull ice cap.
Gígjökull has been in the limelight as scientists and laypersons across the world were alarmed with the volcanic activity in the glacier. The Eyjafjallajokull began to erupt on March 2010 and the eruption was close to the glacier head. Gígjökull empties out of the summit crater area at 1,600 mtrs, flows across the ice cap to 1,500 mtrs and then drops in an icefall of 200 mtrs. Locals sometimes call it by its colloquial name Falljökull, which means “Ice Fall”.
The water flowing from Gígjökull enters the Markarfljot river and eruptions in the marked area have caused glacier outbursts and the 2010 eruption is the latest. Due to the volcanic burst there has been a lot of glacial melt. The ice plume is travelling east, away from the white ice cap. Nearly 120 cubic mtrs of tephra rushed and filled the glacier lagoon that used to be there. The lagoon is now totally filled up with approximately 25 mn cubic mtrs of tephra and the whole area is covered in ash from the volcano.
Though the spot is popular among ice climbers in winter, the Gígjökull is retreating slowly and the ice lagoon being formed in front is spreading. Getting to Gígjökull is just a two hour ride from the capital. One has to follow the highway No. 1 and the signThorsmork close to the waterfall Seljalandsfoss is clearly visible. Tourists better not go alone and better be accompanied by trained guides in modified motor vehicles, because rivers have to be crossed on the way. Weather is an important factor during the journey as rain effects the river beds and the substrata of the river could become shaky and hence hazardous. Thorsmork named after the Norse God is worth the time spent there.
There are many popular hiking trails there. One of the most important is Landmannlaugar. Tourists can enjoy camping sites and hot springs. Not to be missed is Laugevegur which is Iceland’s popular hiking destination