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  • Country
  • Volcanic Region
  • Primary Volcano Type
  • Last Known Eruption
  • 64°N
  • 16.65°W

  • 2119 m
    6950 ft

  • 374010
  • Latitude
  • Longitude

  • Summit

  • Volcano

The Global Volcanism Program has no activity reports for Oraefajokull.

The Global Volcanism Program has no Weekly Reports available for Oraefajokull.

The Global Volcanism Program has no Bulletin Reports available for Oraefajokull.

Basic Data

Volcano Number

Last Known Eruption



1728 CE

2119 m / 6950 ft


Volcano Types

Pyroclastic cone(s)
Lava dome

Rock Types

Basalt / Picro-Basalt
Trachyte / Trachyandesite

Tectonic Setting

Rift zone
Oceanic crust (< 15 km)


Within 5 km
Within 10 km
Within 30 km
Within 100 km

Geological Summary

Öraefajökull, Iceland's highest peak, is a broad glacier-clad central volcano at the SE end of the Vatnajökull icecap. A 4 x 5 km subglacial caldera truncates the summit of the dominantly basaltic and rhyolitic volcano. The extensive summit icecap is drained through deep glacial valleys dissecting the SW-to-SE flanks of the volcano. The largest-volume volcano in Iceland, 2119-m-high Öraefajökull was mostly constructed during Pleistocene glacial and interglacial periods. Holocene activity has been dominated by explosive summit eruptions, although flank lava effusions have also occurred. A major silicic eruption in 1362 CE was Iceland's largest historical explosive eruption. It and another eruption during 1727-28 were accompanied by major jökulhlaups (glacier outburst floods) that caused property damage and fatalities.


The following references have all been used during the compilation of data for this volcano, it is not a comprehensive bibliography.

Gudmundsson M T, Larsen G, Hoskuldsson A, Gylfason A G, 2008. Volcanic hazards in Iceland. Jokull, 58: 251-268.

Newhall C G, Dzurisin D, 1988. Historical unrest at large calderas of the world. U S Geol Surv Bull, 1855: 1108 p, 2 vol.

Selbekk R S, Tronnes R G, 2007. The 1362 AD Oraefajokull eruption, Iceland: petrology and geochemistry of large-volume homogeneous rhyolite. J Volc Geotherm Res, 160: 42-58.

Sharma K, Self S, Blake S, Thordarson T, Larsen G, 2008. The AD Oraefajokull eruption, S.E. Iceland: physical volcanology and volatile release. J Volc Geotherm Res, 178: 719-739.

Steinthorsson S, et al., 2002. Catalog of Active Volcanoes of the World - Iceland. Unpublished manuscript.

Stevenson J A, McGarvie D W, Smellie J L, Gilbert J S, 2006. Subglacial and ice-contact volcanism at the Oraefajokull stratovolcano, Iceland. Bull Volc, 68: 737-752.

Thorarinsson S, 1958. The Oraefajokull eruption of 1362. Acta Nat Islandica, 2: 1-102.

Eruptive History

Summary of Holocene eruption dates and Volcanic Explosivity Indices (VEI).

Start Date Stop Date Eruption Certainty VEI Evidence Activity Area or Unit
1727 Aug 3 1728 May 1 ± 30 days Confirmed 4 Historical Observations Caldera, west flank (to 1100 m)
1362 Jun 5 ± 4 days 1362 Oct 15 ± 45 days Confirmed 5 Historical Observations

This compilation of synonyms and subsidiary features may not be comprehensive. Features are organized into four major categories: Cones, Craters, Domes, and Thermal Features. Synonyms of features appear indented below the primary name. In some cases additional feature type, elevation, or location details are provided.


Knappafellsjokull | Hnappafellsjokull | Orfialdsjokull


Feature Name Feature Type Elevation Latitude Longitude
Hofsfjall Cone 744 m
Storhofdi Cone 784 m


Feature Name Feature Type Elevation Latitude Longitude
Hvannadalshnjúkur Dome

Photo Gallery

Öræfajökull, Iceland's highest peak, is viewed here from the west, with the Svinafellsjökull glacier (left) descending from the central icecap nearly to the coastal road. A 4 x 5 km subglacial caldera truncates the summit, which rises to 2119 m about 10 km NW of the Atlantic Ocean shoreline. A major silicic eruption in 1362 was the largest in Iceland during historical time. It and another eruption during 1727-28 were accompanied by major jökulhlaups (glacier outburst floods) that caused property damage and fatalities.

Photo by Oddur Sigurdsson, 1986, (Orkustofnon, Icelandic National Energy Authority).

Smithsonian Sample Collections Database

The following 2 samples associated with this volcano can be found in the Smithsonian's NMNH Department of Mineral Sciences collections. Catalog number links will open a window with more information.

Catalog Number Sample Description
NMNH 117551-1 Obsidian
NMNH 117551-12 Obsidian

Affiliated Sites

Large Eruptions of Oraefajokull Information about large Quaternary eruptions (VEI >= 4) is cataloged in the Large Magnitude Explosive Volcanic Eruptions (LaMEVE) database of the Volcano Global Risk Identification and Analysis Project (VOGRIPA).
WOVOdat WOVOdat is a database of volcanic unrest; instrumentally and visually recorded changes in seismicity, ground deformation, gas emission, and other parameters from their normal baselines. It is sponsored by the World Organization of Volcano Observatories (WOVO) and presently hosted at the Earth Observatory of Singapore.
EarthChem EarthChem develops and maintains databases, software, and services that support the preservation, discovery, access and analysis of geochemical data, and facilitate their integration with the broad array of other available earth science parameters. EarthChem is operated by a joint team of disciplinary scientists, data scientists, data managers and information technology developers who are part of the NSF-funded data facility Integrated Earth Data Applications (IEDA). IEDA is a collaborative effort of EarthChem and the Marine Geoscience Data System (MGDS).
MODVOLC - HIGP MODIS Thermal Alert System Using infrared satellite Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) data, scientists at the Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, University of Hawai'i, developed an automated system called MODVOLC to map thermal hot-spots in near real time. For each MODIS image, the algorithm automatically scans each 1 km pixel within it to check for high-temperature hot-spots. When one is found the date, time, location, and intensity are recorded. MODIS looks at every square km of the Earth every 48 hours, once during the day and once during the night, and the presence of two MODIS sensors in space allows at least four hot-spot observations every two days. Each day updated global maps are compiled to display the locations of all hot spots detected in the previous 24 hours. There is a drop-down list with volcano names which allow users to 'zoom-in' and examine the distribution of hot-spots at a variety of spatial scales.
MIROVA Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity (MIROVA) is a near real time volcanic hot-spot detection system based on the analysis of MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) data. In particular, MIROVA uses the Middle InfraRed Radiation (MIR), measured over target volcanoes, in order to detect, locate and measure the heat radiation sourced from volcanic activity.