Vatnajökull


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Vatnajökull

(vät`näyö`ko͝ol), glacier, c.3,150 sq mi (8,160 sq km), SE Iceland; largest glacier in Europe. At an elevation of from 4,200 to 6,100 ft (1,280–1,860 m), it covers a huge volcanic plateau, which includes the Grímsvötn caldera, Iceland's third largest and historically most active volcano. The periodic release of water from the subglacial lake in the caldera, where heat melts the ice, has resulted in catastrophic flooding. Vatnajökull descends in some 40 branches into adjoining valleys. Some peaks rise above the ice, notably those of ÖraefajökullÖraefajökull
, mountain, Vatnajökull National Park, SE Iceland, rising from the Vatnajökull glacier. Öraefajökull is an ice-covered, three-peaked volcano.
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 at the southern end of the glacier. Along with surrounding areas it is included in Vatnajökull National Park.

Vatnajökull

 

the largest cover glacier in Iceland. Area including the branching tongues, 8,390 sq km. It is shaped like a gently sloping dome and rises from an altitude of 600-900 m to 2,000 m. The thickness of the ice cover is 600-800 m, but is as much as 1,000 m in places. The firn line occurs at an altitude of 1,000-1,100 m on the south and at an altitude of 1,200-1,300 m on the west and north. Vatnajökull covers the volcanic massif of southwestern Iceland; the highest mountain of Iceland, Hvannadalshnukur (2,119 m), rises above Vatnajökull. The eruption of subglacial and superglacial volcanoes is usually accompanied by intensive ice thaws that cause catastrophic flooding. Some of the southern branches of the Vatnajökull descend almost to the coast.