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Lake Profile


General Information

Description Myvatn is a large lake at the edge of the volcanic zone that cuts through North Iceland. There are numerous springs welling up along the lake shore. Craters and volcanoes dominate the landscape. Several famous volcanoes are in the vicinity such as Hverfjall (Hverfell), Krafla and the Threngslaborgir crater row.

Many strange lava formations occur. There are numerous "pseudocraters" along the shore of Lake Myvatn, created by steam explosions when glowing lava poured into the lake.

Country Iceland
Latitude 65° 35' 59" (65.6000)
Longitude -17° 0' 0" (-17.0000)

Physical Characteristics

Description The lake, which has a very irregular shoreline, basically divides into two basins: Ytriflˇi and Sy­riflˇi.
Surface Area 37.00 km2
Depth Mean depth: 2.1 m
Maximum depth: 4.0 m
Age 0 - 10,000 years before present
Origin Glacial
Type Fresh


Economic Value Fishing and harvesting of duck eggs has always been important for local households.
Major Cities

Watershed Management

Description The Mřvatn district and the river Laxß are protected by a law enacted in 1974 which prohibits manipulations of lake levels and the flow of rivers for any other purpose than conservation or cultivation and restricts other activities which might damage the land or its wildlife. This law was enacted after a dispute over plans of large-scale hydropower developments. These plans were eventually cancelled.
Issues Hydropower and geothermal power development, as well as diatomite mining of lake sediments, are the main threats to the landscape and ecology of the lake area.

Biodiversity Conservation

Description The lake itself and its outflow the River Laxß is the most fertile freshwater system in Iceland. The bird life and fishing (including Atlantic Salmon) is extremely rich. Owing to the position of Iceland between two continents the species composition of the biota is unique. The richness is based on phosphate-rich groundwater, relatively high insolation and optimal water depth for aquatic plants and waterfowl.

The area is a protected nature reserve, managed by the Environment and Food Agency of Iceland, using scientific information from the Myvatn Research Station.

Designations LakeNet Biodiversity Priority
Ramsar Site
Species of Concern


Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network



Biodiversity Conservation of the World's Lakes: A Preliminary Framework for Identifying Priorities
Myvatn Research Station

Additional Data Sources

Asian Development Bank. Environmental Profile of Tajikistan,2000.
Duker, L. and L. Borre. 2001. Biodiversity conservation of the world's lakes: a preliminary framework for identifying priorities. LakeNet Report Series Number 2. Annapolis, Maryland USA.
Skriver, Jens (ed.)2001. Biological monitoring in Nordic rivers and lakes. National Environmental Research Institute, Denmark.

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