Shoreline erosion and aeolian deposition along a recently formed hydro-electric reservoir, Blöndulón, Iceland

O. K. Vilmundardóttir*, B. Magnússon, G. Gísladóttir, Th Thorsteinsson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Erosion and deposition processes have been active along the shores of the Blöndulón hydro-electric reservoir in the Icelandic highlands since its formation nearly two decades ago. In this study, bluff development and distribution of aeolian material along the shores of the reservoir is related to erosive forces and source materials. The 57 km2 reservoir was formed in the glacial river Blanda in 1991 and enlarged in 1996. Bluff erosion and aeolian deposition has been monitored since 1997. Field observations, meteorological data, GIS analyses and calculations of wave power were used to measure and describe erosive processes along the new shoreline. Wave-induced bluff erosion was most rapid during the first years after impoundment and was most active at sites with glacial till substrate, high cumulative wave power, and long fetches along the dominant wind direction. In recent years, relatively high erosion rates have continued at bluffs of fluvioglacial material under low cumulative wave power. The fluvioglacial material has low resistance to wave activity, creating unstable bluffs, whereas bluffs made of glacial till are more stable. Aeolian sandy sediment, mainly volcanic tephra eroded from soils, has been deposited at sites open towards dry strong winds during low water levels in inlets of low wave energy. Slope and aspect against wind direction restricted the sediment distribution to 212 000 m2 (21 ha) of the heathland along the reservoir. By 2008 a volume of ~ 11 000 m3 had accumulated. The continued redistribution of aeolian sediments and processes of bluff erosion were controlled by the water level fluctuations in the reservoir.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)542-555
Number of pages14
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank Landsvirkjun National Power for funding the long-term monitoring project; The Icelandic Research Fund for Graduate Students ; Gudmundur Stefánsson and the staff at Blanda Power Station for their support during the field work; Victor Helgason at Landsvirkjun Power for the contribution to field data and assistance with GIS implementation; Harri Tolvanen at the University of Turku, Finland, for his advice on calculations of fetch length and wave power; Hreinn Hjartarson at the IMO for providing meteorological data; Gudrún Larsen and Jón Eiríksson at the Institute of Earth Sciences for their advise on the tephra profiles and grain-size parameters; Dadi Björnsson and Loftmyndir ehf. for providing and allowing the exploitation of the Digital elevation model. In addition, Ólafur Arnalds, the editor, and the two anonymous reviewers, are thanked for their useful comments.

Other keywords

  • Aeolian deposit
  • Bluff erosion rate
  • Fetch length
  • Hydro-electric reservoir
  • Iceland
  • Shore morphology
  • Wave power


Dive into the research topics of 'Shoreline erosion and aeolian deposition along a recently formed hydro-electric reservoir, Blöndulón, Iceland'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this