Eyjafjallajokull (Directly translated: “The Island Mountains’ Glacier”) or rather its mountain range is among the highest of the country, 5500 feet (1666m). It derives its name from the Island Archipelago off the south coast, The Vestman Islands. This mountain massif is actually the result of continuous eruptions during thousands of years and a vast crater on top has probably been active a few times during historic times of this country. The only documented eruptions took place in 1612 and was seen all the way to the northern part of the country, and during the period 1821-23. Both eruptions caused at least damage to property by glacier bursts (floods) and ash fall. The latter caused a three hours’ flood, covering the wide valley floor north of the mountain. Before and around the turn of the last century, an increased earthquake activity and escaping gasses were watched closely. This volcano, and many others, is within the most active 50 miles wide zone of the country.
The icecap on top is the fifth largest of the country, and is relatively easily accessible from the mountain saddle Fimmvorduhals., the farms Seljavellir and Mork, and from the north at Stakkolt and Langanes. Nowadays it is not considered a great deed or too much of an adventure to conquer the glaciers in specially equipped and modified jeeps or other vehicles. A small Lada has even conquered this one.
Two glacier tongues fall steeply down to the foot of the northern slopes, The Gigjokull and The Steinsholtsjokull. Both end in lagoons, where it usually is possible to see some floating ice. In 1967 a part of a precipice called Innstihaus, about 15 million cubic metres, broke of and collapsed on top of the glacier and into the lagoon from about 900 feet above. This catastrophe caused a tremendous flood wave, carrying with it gigantic rocks and boulders all the way down to the main river, Markarfljot, which peaked at 21.000 cubic metres per second.
Two aircraft have crashed on the icecap. In 1952 an American rescue plane, with five on board, went down and only one body was found on location. The other four obviously had escaped and walked away, not to be found during the next few years. Twelve years later, another body was found and a wedding ring of another. The glacier tongue delivered the remaining three bodies in the summer of 1966. Scrap and pieces from the plane have been appearing gradually in and by the sides of the glacier. In 1975, an American couple crashed and lost their lives.
Eyjafjallajokull is on the Saga trail for South Iceland.