Geomorphology and the Little Ice Age extent of the Drangajökull ice cap, NW Iceland, with focus on its three surge-type outlets

Skafti Brynjólfsson*, Anders Schomacker, Ólafur Ingólfsson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Detailed geomorphological maps from the forefields of three surging outlets of the Drangajökull ice cap, northwest Iceland, are presented. The maps are based on field studies in 2011-2013, high resolution orthorectified aerial photographs recorded in 2005-2006, and airborne LiDAR data from 2011. The maps cover an area of about 40-60km2 each. Furthermore, we present an overview map that covers the area surrounding the Drangajökull ice cap. Landforms and sediments were manually registered in a geographic information system (ESRI ArcGIS 10). We mapped glacial landforms such as flutes, ice-sculpted bedrock, hummocky moraine, kame terraces, and moraines. Fluvial landforms include outwash plains/sandur, pitted sandur, and eskers. In addition raised beaches were mapped. The Little Ice Age (LIA) maximum extent of Drangajökull and its outlet glaciers are fingerprinted by surficial till deposits and freshly glacially scoured bedrock. Sediments distal to the LIA deposits were recorded and consist mainly of late Weichselian and early Holocene sediments and locally weathered bedrock. Periglacial activity is demonstrated by patterned ground, mainly occurring on the 500-700m high plateaux, and three rock glaciers. At least 3-4 surge events are described from each of the outlet glaciers, occurring over the last three centuries. In contrast to most other surge-type outlets from Icelandic ice caps, the Drangajökull outlets are confined within valleys, which affect the forefield geomorphology. Glaciofluvial landforms, moraines, and a thin sheet of till with numerous boulders are characteristic for the forefields of the Drangajökull outlets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)292-304
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Jón Bjarni Friðriksson, Julie Andreassen, Kathrine Naegeli, and Sverrir A. Jónsson are thanked for great field assistance and stimulating discussions in the vicinity of Drangajökull. Halldór G. Pétursson is thanked for valuable discussions and for providing some of the old literature. The local people coming from Reykjarfjörður and still living there during the summers are thanked for their great hospitality during fieldwork in 2011–12. We are especially grateful to Þröstur Jóhannesson and Ragnar Jakobsson who have monitored Reykjarfjarðarjökull for decades, and for providing us with a lot of valuable information about Reykjarfjarðarjökull and the entire Drangajökull area. Ásgeir Sólbergsson, and his family, who lives in Leirufjörður during the summers are thanked for their hospitality and for providing valuable information about Leirufjörður and the outlet glacier during our field work in 2012. Sigurður Sigurðsson and family are thanked for excellent service and hospitality during the fieldwork around Kaldalón in 2013. Furthermore, Indriði Aðalsteinsson is thanked for valuable information about Kaldalón and its surroundings. This project has been supported by the University of Iceland Research Fund and the Arctic Studies Cooperation Fund of the Icelandic and Norwegian Foreign Affair Ministry . We thank two anonymous reviewers and Emrys Phillips for their constructive comments that improved the manuscript.

Other keywords

  • Drangajökull
  • Glacial geomorphology
  • Iceland
  • Landform
  • Little ice age
  • Surging glacier


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