Very large landslide blocks a river near Hitardal, western Iceland

A very large landslide detached from the Fagraskógarfjall massif near Hitardal in western Iceland early Saturday morning, July 7, 2018. The slide blocked a well-known salmon fishing river with mud and rock, almost completely changing the landscape. Although not everyone agrees, local media currently consider this event as the largest landslide ever to hit Iceland.

The landslide was mapped with drones, Icelandic Coast Guard airplane and satellites.

Based on these images, the debris covers an area of about 1.8 km2 (0.69 mi2). In addition, satellite imagery showed an old crater in the same place in the mountain and a slope below it, suggesting this is not the first landslide in this area.

The slide has blocked a well-known salmon fishing river with mud and rock, almost completely changing the landscape.

This is a big dam and there is no risk that it will break, says Magni Jónsson, a specialist in the flood at the Icelandic Meteorological Office. “There will be some flooding, but this will happen slowly.”

“May was the wettest on record in Reykjavik, and June was no better, suffering the lowest number of hours of sunshine in June in recorded history. Thus, it seems likely that the landslide was a consequence of the high levels of recent rainfall,” landslides expert Dr. Dave Petley said.

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Featured image credit: Sumarliði Ásgeirsson

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