Determination of aeolian transport rates of volcanic soils in Iceland

Olafur Arnalds*, Fanney Osk Gisladottir, Berglind Orradottir

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Sandy deserts cover >20000km 2 in Iceland, consisting primarily of volcanic materials with basaltic volcanic glass being the main constituent. Wind erosion is severe in the country, causing dust pollution with widespread aeolian redistribution affecting most Icelandic ecosystems and sand movement over vegetated areas in the form of advancing sand fronts. We quantified wind erosion, using BSNE field samplers and automated sensors over several years at two sites with contrasting environments. The study sites are Holsfjöll with andic soil materials in the arid northeast highlands (<400mm annual precipitation) and Geitasandur on sandy surfaces in the humid south lowlands (>1200mm). Both areas show similar annual aeolian transport of 120->670kgm -1yr -1. Aeolian flux in storms at the NE site was 3-43kgm -1h -1 on average with up to >200kgm -1h -1 during gusts. Multiple regression shows potential flux of >200kgm -1h -1 during intense storms of >20ms -1 (at 2m height). The research shows major aeolian activity in the humid South Iceland. Height distribution curves indicate considerable transport high above the surface at both sites (>60cm). Stable height distribution curves for each location allow for measurements using single dust trap over long periods. The research explains the intense activity of advancing sand fronts in Iceland and the significance of continuously recharged sand sources for maintaining severe wind erosion in humid areas of Iceland.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-12
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research was funded by Landsvirkjun Energy Company and the Icelandic Research Fund . Einar Gretarsson was fundamental in setting up and managing the instrumentation at Holsfjöll. Bragi Benediktsson and Anna Bragadottir at the Grimstadir farm and weather station helped with data collection, as did Brita Berglund and various other Soil Conservation Service and Agricultural University of Iceland staff.

Other keywords

  • Aeolian
  • Andosols
  • Dust
  • Iceland
  • Saltation
  • Wind erosion


Dive into the research topics of 'Determination of aeolian transport rates of volcanic soils in Iceland'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this