In the Öræfi district you can observe a skerry in sea, sand and glacier (in Icelandic: sker). A sharp feature rising in a flat landscape or sea is referred to as skerry. The Out Skerries off the Scotland coast were presumably named by Norse. In the Skaftafell glacier east side there is a black stripe (median moraine) that can be traced into the glacier until you reach a skerry, some 9 km from the glacier front. The Skerry has grown immensely during the last decades due to ice melting and now it is more accurate to call it a small mountain. Years ago I walked on the median moraine, accompanied by an American student by the name of Tom Black. He was working on his masters project by Kvíárjökull further east and he took the time to join me to study rocks in the skerry. We made this trip on June 22nd, 1989. I was unlucky in that my photos did not turn out right. Recently, 24 years after Tom and I made this trip, I tried to locate him on the internet. My search was successful and, to make a long story short, he was able to dig into old boxes and locate his slides. He had them scanned and sent me the “old” photographs, a few of which are below on this page (photos 3 to 8). The old photographs are of good quality and particularly interesting as they show changes of the glacier that has melted substantially in the last two decades. He also took photograph of the Svarthamradalur valley from a good perspective (photo 7). Below is first a bedrock map with the skerry geology in addition to photos that show local condition. Our trip was overall successful, we had no sunshine but no rain either and the only danger we met was getting off the ice to the skerry as the glacier was fractured (photo 4).


Photo 1. The skerry in Skaftafellsjökull. Formation SM1 is a palagonite but formation SM2 is made of tholeiite basalt lavas, at least 6 units.

Photo 2. Original map drawing from the Danish campaign around 1900. Here the place name “Skerry” is a proper one as it just reaches through the ice.


Photo 3. This peak is near the very front of the skerry (i.e. south).

Photo 4. When just reaching the skerry the glacier is quite broken up.

Photo 5. Gathering data in the skerry.

Photo 6. Looking donw the median moraine of Skaftafelljökull glacier.

Photo 7. Svarthamradalur valley in Hafrafelli, viewed from the Skaftafellsjökull median moraine.

Photo 8. The skerry (Skerið á milli skarðanna), photo taken in 1989.

Photo 9. The skerry, photo taken on July 20th, 2012. Now, a small mountain is becoming visible as a result of glacial melting. Off the steep cliff on the west side a waterfall can be seen. Svarthamar cliff is visible in the right foreground.



Vinir Vatnajökuls