Natural hazards

Natural hazards in Iceland arise through endogenous and exogenous processes and the constant interactions between these natural forces.

  • Endogenous forces originate within the Earth. Volcanism and earthquakes occur as a result of endogenous forces. Examples of volcanic hazards include lava flows, tephra and ash fall, lahars, glacial outburst floods (jökulhlaups), and poisonous gases emitted during volcanic eruptions.
  • Exogenous forces are external to the Earth. Exogenous processes are mainly powered by solar energy, together with Earth’s own gravitational energy. Natural hazards arising from exogenous processes are directly or indirectly caused by the interactions of various climatic factors such as temperature, precipitation and winds. Examples include storms, erosion, and flooding, as well as rapid mass wasting events such as landslides and avalanches, which can be extremely dangerous and destructive.

The Icelandic Meteorological Office monitors and responds to natural hazards in Iceland in cooperation with other agencies and institutes, including the IINH, which participates in monitoring and surveying of landslides in Iceland. The Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management has the role of preparing response plans, informing the public on natural hazards, and ensuring public safety.