Iceland’s raging rivers
Captured on 06 June 2019 by NASA's Landsat-8 mission, this image takes us over Iceland, a country rich with compelling geologic phenomena, volcanoes and ice caps abound. Even the country's rivers are connected to the landscape of fire and ice.
Iceland's largest rivers by volume, the Þjórsá and Ölfusá, once flowed toward the coast as one river, joining about 25 kilometers from the modern-day coastline. Then about 8,700 years ago they separated when an eruption deposited the Great Þjórsá lava—the country's largest lava flow. The rivers today run their separate courses, flowing southwest along the east and west sides of the lava flow.
We see the rivers in the summer season when they are ice-free (in winter they are prone to flooding from ice jams). The view shows the river's locations relative to Reykjavík, Iceland's capital city.
The Ölfusá River is not Iceland's longest river, measuring only 25 kilometers from its headwaters to the ocean. Yet it moves an average of 423 cubic meters of water per second—more than any other river in the country.
The Þjórsá River is both Iceland's longest (230 kilometers) and its second-largest by volume, moving an average of 370 cubic meters of water per second.
View the full resolution image.
Credit: NASA Earth Observatory image by Joshua Stevens, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey.