ice cave

isgong flettigluggi

EFLA has been involved in the preparations for an ice tunnel in Langjökull glacier since 2010. During the first stages of the project, the focus was on whether the idea for such a large tunnel high up in Langjökull glacier was even technically and glaciologically feasible. Comparable overseas projects were examined, and the cost of constructing the tunnel was assessed. EFLA developed the project up until the end of 2013, when an agreement was reached for its takeover with an investment fund in the field of innovations in tourism services in Iceland.

The tunnel in question is a cave measuring more than 7,000 m3 excavated in the firn and glacial ice of Langjökull glacier. As far as we know, this makes the cave the largest man-made ice cave open to the public in the world. The cave was excavated using large excavators and wheel loaders, something that called for a great deal of ventilation during the work period.

EFLA is responsible for the arrangement of the cave in co-operation with exhibition designers, designs the lighting, ventilation, drainage and electrical wiring together with managing all environmental issues, safety issues and planning and permit issues. All arrangements must take account of the movement of the ice as the cave slowly sags in on itself due to the weight above it. The deepest sections of the cave will reduce in size so fast that they will have to be widened out on a regular basis.

EFLA is responsible for taking accurate measurements of any movement in the ice in co-operation with the University of Iceland. The plan is to carry out a research project on the sag over the coming years.

Never before has such a long tunnel been excavated into glacial ice in this manner anywhere in the world, and very little has been written on glacial excavations in journals in the field of engineering. The project, therefore, will increase knowledge in this field and will hopefully be of practical value in the future.