Material written in English related to soils, soil erosion and desertification in Iceland.

The bibliography below is divided into: 
Journal papers,  
Books and dissertations, 
   Book chapters, 
   Reports, and Related material.

Note that there are numerous publications that have been published in Icelandic that are not cited here, unless they have an extended English summary. The Icelandic Soil Conservation Service (Landgræðsla ríkisins) publishes semi-annually reports which contain a wealth of information related to soil erosion and conservation in Iceland.

We are well aware of that this list is not complete, and we intend to enlarge it at the first opportunity. All suggestions are welcome (

olasoil.jpg (14001 bytes) Soil Erosion in Iceland.

By Olafur Arnalds, Elin Fjola Þorarinsdottir, Sigmar Metusalemsson, Asgeir Jonsson, Einar Gretarsson, and Arnor Arnason.

This book is a translation of the book Jarðvegsrof á Íslandi that was originally published in Icelandic in 1997. The book gives the results of a project that aimed to map soil erosion in all of Iceland.

A special classification of soils was used and an erosion severity scale. The book contains numerous color photographs of Icelandic landscapes and erosion features.  If you wish to order, please send order to   .The price is £10 or $17 + shipping

A soilmap of Iceland

Publication on Desertification

The Andosols website. (

The Agricultural Research Institute hosts the official home page of the EU-COST action 622: Volcanic soil resources of Europe.  The website has an extensive bibliography on Andosols, soils of volcanic regions.



Environmental Research Institute, Reykjavík, Iceland -


Journal papers

A.L. Aradottir and Th. Eysteinsson 2005.  Restoration of birch woodlands in Iceland.  In: Restoration of Boreal and Temperate Forests.  J.A. Stanturf og P. Madsen (Eds).  CRC Press, Boca Raton, pp195-209.

Gretarsdottir, J., A.L. Aradottir, V. Vandvik, E Heegaard, and H.J.B.  Birks. 2004. Long-term effects of reclamation treatments on plant succession in Iceland. Restoration Ecology 12:268-278.

Arnalds, O.2004. Volcanic soils of Iceland. Catena 56:3-20.

Oskarsson, H., O. Arnalds, J. Guðmundsson and G. Gudbergsson. 2004. Organic carbon in Icelandic Andosols: geographical variation and impact of erosion. Catena 56:225-238.

Elmarsdottir, A., A.L.Aradottir and M.J. Trlica. 2003. Microsite availability and estabishment of native species on degraded and reclaimed sites. Journal of Applied Ecology 40:815-823.

Haraldsson, H. and R. Olafsdottir. 2003. Simulating vegetation cover dynamics with regards to long-term climatic variations in sub-arctic landscapes. Global and Planetary Change 38:313-325.

Arnalds,O and B.H. Barkarson. 2003. Soil erosion and land use policy in Iceland in relation to sheep grazing and government subsidies. Environmental Science and Policy 6:105-113.

Olafsdottir, R., Schlyter, P., Haraldsson, H.V., 2001. Simulating Icelandic vegetation cover during the Holocene. Implications for long-term land degradation. Geografiska Annaler 83A: 203-215.

Arnalds, O. and J. Kimble 2001. Andisols of Deserts in Iceland. Soil
Science Society of America Journal, 65:1778-1786.

Arnalds, O., F.O. Gisladottir, and H. Sigurjonsson.  2001.  Sandy deserts of Iceland: an overview.  Jour. of Arid Environments 47: 359-371.

Aradóttir, A.L., K. Svavarsóttir, Th. H. Jonsson, and G. Guðbergsson.  2000.  Carbon accumulation in vegetation and soils by reclamation of degraded areas.  Icel. Agr. Sci. 13:99-113.

Arnalds, A.  2000.  Evolution of rangeland conservation strategies.  In: Rangeland Desertification (eds. O. Arnalds and S. Archer).  Kluwer Academic Publ., London. pp153-163.

O. Arnalds,  2000. The Icelandic "rofabard" soil erosion features. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 25:17-28.

Dugmore, A.J., A. J. Newton, A.J., Larsen, G. and Cook, G.T.  2000.  Thephrochronology, environmental change and the Norse Settlement in Iceland.  Evironmental Archaeology 5:21-34.

O. Arnalds, G. Guðbergsson and J. Guðmundsson.  2000.  Carbon sequestration and reclamation of severely degraded soils in Iceland.  Icel. Agr. Sci.13:87-97.

Van Vliet-Lanoe, B., Bourgeois, O., and Dauteuil, O., 1998.  Thufur formation in northern Iceland and its relation to Holocene climate change.  Permafrost and Periglacial Processes 9: 347–365.

Strachan, I. O. Arnalds, F. Pálmason, H. Thorgeirsson, B. D. Sigurðsson, H. Sigurðardóttir and G. Novoselac. 1998. Soils of the Gunnarsholt experimental plantation. Búvísindi (Icelandic Agricultural Science) 12:27-38.

O. Arnalds,  1997. Desertification in Iceland. Desertification Control Bulletin, 32: 22-24.

Arnalds, O. C.T. Hallmark and L.P. Wilding. 1995. Andisols from four different regions of Iceland. Soil Science Society of America Journal 59:161-169.

Fridriksson, S. 1995. Alarming rate of erosion of some Icelandic soils. Environmental Conservation, 22:167.

Wada, K., O. Arnalds, Y. Kakuto, L.P. Wilding and C.T. Hallmark. 1992. Clay minerals of four soils formed in eolian and tephra materials in Iceland. Geoderma 52:351-365.

Thorsteinsson, I. and O. Arnalds. 1992. The vegetation and soils of the Thingvallavatn area. Oikos 64:105-116. 1992.

Magnusson, S.H. and B. Magnusson. 1990. Seeding of birch for land reclamation and woodland establishment). Iceland Forestry Society Yearbook, 1999:9-18. In Icelandic, extended English summary.

Fridriksson, S. 1988. ‘Erosion rates measured’, Icelandic Agricultural Sciences, 1:3-10. In Icelandic, English summary.

Arnalds, A. 1987. Ecosystem disturbance and recovery in Iceland. Arctic and Alpine Research, 19: 508-513.

Arnalds, O., A. L. Aradóttir and I. Thorsteinsson. 1987. The nature and restoration of denuded areas in Iceland. Arctic and Alpine Research 19:518-525.

Sigbjarnarson, G. 1969. The loessial soil formation and the soil erosion on Haukadalsheidi. Natturufraedingurinn 39:49-128. In Icelandic, extended English summary.

Helgason, B. 1968. Basaltic soils of South-west Iceland. II. J. Soil Sci. 19:127-134.

Helgason, B. 1963. Basaltic soils of South-west Iceland. I. J. Soil Sci. 14:64-72.

Thorarinsson, S. 1961. ‘Wind erosion in Iceland. A tephrocronological study, Icelandic Forestry Society Yearbook. 1961: 17-54. In Icelandic, extended English summary.

Books and dissertations

Aradóttir, A., and O. Arnalds.  2001.  Ecosystem degradation and restoration of birch woodlands in Iceland.  In: F.E. Wielgolaski (Ed.) Nordic Mountain Birch Systems.  Man and the Biosphere Series Vol. 27, Paris and Parthenon Publishing Group, London.  pp. 293-306

Magnusson, S.H., and B. Magnusson.  2001.  Effect of enhancement of willow (Salix spp.) on establishment of birch (Betula Pubescens) on eroded soils in Iceland.  In: F.E. Wielgolaski (Ed.) Nordic Mountain Birch Systems.  Man and the Biosphere Series Vol. 27, Paris and Parthenon Publishing Group, London.  pp. 317-329.

Aradóttir, A., I. Thorsteinsson, and S. Sigurdsson.  2001.  Distribution and characteristics of birch woodlands in North Iceland.  In: F.E. Wielgolaski (Ed.) Nordic Mountain Birch Systems.  Man and the Biosphere Series Vol. 27, Paris and Parthenon Publishing Group, London.  pp. 51-61

Arnalds, O. and S. Archer. 2000. Rangeland Desertification. Kluwer Academic Publishers,   Dordrecht, The Netherlands. 209 p. Edited in Iceland, but subject not specific for Iceland. See

Gisladottir, F. 2000. Environmental change and wind erosion south of Langjokull, South Iceland. M.Sc. Thesis. Reykjavik: University of Iceland. In Icelandic, English summary. University of Iceland.

Arnalds, O. and S. Archer. 1999. Case Studies of Rangeland Desertification. Proceedings from an International Workshop in Iceland. Rala Report no. 200. Agricultural Research Institute, Reykjavik, Iceland. 159 p. Subject not specific to Iceland. See

Arnalds, A. 1999.  Incentives for soil conservation in Iceland.  In:Incentives in Soil Conservation.  From Theory to Practice (eds. D.W. Sanders, P.C. Husza, S. Sombatpanit, and T. Enters).  Oxford  & IBH Publishing Co., New Delhi.  pp.135-150.

Gisladottir, G. 1998. ‘Environmental Characterisation and Change in South-western Iceland’, Department of Physical Geography, Stockholm University, Dissertation Series 10, Stockholm, Sweden.

Arnalds, O, E. F. Thorarinsdóttir, S. Metúsalemsson, A. Jónsson, E. Grétarsson, and A. Árnason. 1997. Soil Erosion in Iceland. Soil Conservation Service and Agricultural Research Institute, Reykjavik, 155 p. Available in English, Danish and German in 2000.

Magnússon, S.H. 1994. Plant colonization of eroded areas in Iceland. Dissertation, Department of Ecology, Plant Ecology, Lund University, Sweden.

Aradottir, A.L. 1991. Population biology and stand development of birch (Betula pubescens Ehrh.) on disturbed sites in Iceland. Ph.D. Dissertation, Dept. of Range Science, Texas A&M University. Diss. Abs. Internat. 52-06 B, 2869.

Arnalds, O. 1990. Characterization and erosion of Andosols in Iceland. Ph.D. Dissertation, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, U.S.A.Diss. Abstr. 91-18177.

Gudmundsson, Th. 1978. Pedological studies of Icelandic peat soils. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK.

Olafsson, S. 1974. Physical and physio-chemical studies of Icelandic soil types. (In Danish). Dissertation. Den Kongelige Veterinar Landbohojskole, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Johannesson, B. 1960. The soils of Iceland. Agric. Res. Inst. Ser. B No 13, Reykjavik, Iceland.

Book chapters

Arnalds, O. 2000. Desertification, an appeal for a broader perspective. In: Rangeland Desertification. Ólafur Arnalds and Steve Archer (eds.). pp. 5-15. Kluwer Academic Publishers, The Netherlands. See

Arnalds, O. 1999. Soils and soil erosion in Iceland. In: Proceedings of the 5th International Symposium on the Geochemistry of the Earth’s Surface. Invited paper. (Halldór Ármannson, ed.). Balkema, Rotterdam, The Netherlands. pp.135-138.

Arnalds, O. 1999. Soil survey and databases in Iceland. In: Soil resources of Europe. P. Bullock, RJ.A. Jones and L. Montanarella (eds.). pp. 91-96. Invited paper. EU-Joint Research Center, Ispra, Italy.

Magnusson, S.H. 1997. Restoration of eroded areas in Iceland. In: K.M. Urbanska, N.R. Webb, and P.J. Edwards (eds.) Restoration ecology and sustainable development. pp. 118-211. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, U.K.

Arnalds, O. 1996. Soil erosion in Iceland. In: Regionalisation of Erosion and Nitrate Losses from Agricultural land in Nordic Countries. S. Rekolainen, S., and R. Lek (eds.). TemaNord 1996-615:66-68. Nordic Council of Ministers, Copenhagen.

Reports etc.

H. Sigurjónsson, F. Gísladóttir, and O. Arnalds. 1999. Measurement of eolian processes on sandy surfaces in Iceland. Rala Report no. 201. Agricultural Research Institute. 27 p.

Ólafur Arnalds, Ása L. Aradóttir, Arnór Snorrason, Grétar Guðbergsson, Þorbergur Hjalti Jónsson, and Anna María Ágústsdóttir. 1999. Organic carbon sequestration by restoration of severely degraded areas in Iceland. Rala Report 197. 19 pp.

Related material

O. Arnalds and S.R. Gislason.  2002. Validity of oxalate extraction for characterization and Al/Si calculations for vitric Andosols. Mainzer Naturwissenschaft Archiv 40:13-14.

Larsen, G., Newton, A.J., Dugmore, A.J., and Vilmundardottir, E.G., 2001.  Geochemistry, dispersal, volumes and chronology of Holocene silicic layers from the Katla volcanic system, Iceland.  Journal of Quaternary Science 16: 119–132.

Larsen, G.,  2000.  Holocene eruptions within the Katla volcanic system, south Iceland: Characteristics and environmental impact.  Jokull 49, 1–28.

Larsen, G., Dugmore, A., and Newton, A., 1999.  Geochemistry of the historical-age silicic tephras in Iceland.  The Holocene 9: 463–471.

Thorhallsdottir, Th. E. 1997. Tundra ecosystems of Iceland. In: F.E. Wiegolaski (Ed.), Polar and Alpine Tundra. Ecosystems of the World 3:85-96. Elsevier, New York.

Gislason, S.R., S. Arnorsson and H. Armannson 1996. Chemical weathering of basalt in Southwest Iceland: effects of runoff, age of rocks and vegetative/glacial cover. Am. J. Sci. 296:837-907.

Gudmundsson, A.T. and H. Kjartansson. 1996. Earth in Action. The essential guide to the geology of Iceland. Vaka-Helgafell, Reykjavik.

Gudmundsson, A.T. 1996. Volanoes in Iceland. Vaka-Helgafell, Reykjavik.

Hallsdottir, M. 1995. On the pre-settlement history of Icelandic vegetation. Icelandic Agricultural Sciences 9: 17-29.

Kristinsson, H. 1995. Post-settlement history of Icelandic forests. Icelandic Agricultural Sciences 9: 31-35.

Schunke, E. and S.C. Zoltai,. 1988. Earth hummocks (thufur). p. 231-245. In: M.J.

Clark (ed.) Advances Periglacial Geomporhology. Wiley, New York.

Haraldsson, H. 1981. The Markafljot sandur area, southern Iceland. Sedimental, petrological and stratigraphical sudies. Striae 15: 1-60.

Thorarinsson, S. 1981. The application of tephrochronology in Iceland. In Self, S. and Sparks, R.S.J. (Eds), Tephra Studies, Dordrecht, Reidel, 109-134.

Larsen, G. & Thorarinsson, S. (1977). H4 and other acid Hekla tephra layers. Jökull 27:2-27.

Bergthorsson, P. 1969. An estimate of drift ice and temperature in Iceland in 1000 years, Jokull, 19: 94-101.

Einarsson, Th. 1963. Pollen analytical studies on the vegetation and climate history of Iceland in Late and Post-Glacial times, in Löve, A. Löve, D. (Eds), North Atlantic biota and their history, Pergamon Press , Oxford, 355-365.

Related sites:

Orkustofnun  Háskóli Íslands (University of Iceland)

Edited by Olafur Arnalds and  Einar Gretarsson
Agricultural Research Institute of Iceland.

Last updated on 29/03/2000 by EG