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A man is standing on the left bank of Dettifoss waterfall.jpg
On the left bank of Dettifoss waterfall
Location Northeast Iceland
Coordinates 65°48′52.8″N 16°23′04.1″W / 65.814667°N 16.384472°W / 65.814667; -16.384472Coordinates: 65°48′52.8″N 16°23′04.1″W / 65.814667°N 16.384472°W / 65.814667; -16.384472
Type Cataract
Total height 44 m (144 ft)
Number of drops 1
Watercourse Jökulsá á Fjöllum
flow rate
193 m3/s (6,816 cu ft/s)[1]
Location within Iceland
Location within Iceland
Location within Iceland
Detailed view of Dettifoss

Dettifoss is a waterfall in Vatnajökull National Park in Northeast Iceland, and is reputed to be the most powerful waterfall in Europe.[2] The water comes from the nearby Vatnajökull glacier, whose sediment-rich runoff colors the water a greyish white. The superlative of "most powerful" comes from its water flow times its fall distance. The water of the wide Jökulsá á Fjöllum river falls for more than 144 feet, causing a massive, crashing spray.[3]

The Norwegian cascade Sarpefossen has a greater average water flow, but only with about half the height of Dettifoss.


Dettifoss is situated on the Jökulsá á Fjöllum river, which flows from the Vatnajökull glacier and collects water from a large area in Northeast Iceland. The falls are 100 metres (330 ft) wide and have a drop of 44 metres (144 ft) down to the Jökulsárgljúfur canyon. It is the largest waterfall in Iceland in terms of volume discharge, having an average water flow of 193 m3/s.

Tourist access[edit]

Dettifoss can be reached by a new tarmac road (Route 862, finished in 2011) and an older gravel road (Route 864). On the west bank there are minimal facilities, including a bathroom, and the view on the waterfall is somewhat hindered by the waterfall's spray. On the east bank there is an information panel maintained by the staff of Vatnajökull National Park (Vatnajökulsþjóðgarður) and a maintained track to the best viewpoints, as well as public restroom.

Dettifoss is located on the Diamond Circle, a popular tourist route around Húsavík and Lake Mývatn in North Iceland.

In media[edit]

Panorama of Dettifoss
Panorama view taken from the west bank of Dettifoss

The musical composition 'Dettifoss' (Op.57) by Jón Leifs is inspired by this waterfall.

The waterfall is featured in the 2012 science-fiction film Prometheus, standing in as landscape on a primordial Earthlike planet.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Northeast Iceland official travel website". Retrieved 1 March 2011. 
  2. ^ "Vatnajökull National Park's official web site". Retrieved 1 March 2011. 
  3. ^ Dettifoss - The most powerful waterfall in all of Europe Atlas Obscura, 28 October 2016
  4. ^ Goldberg, Matt (July 11, 2011). "Prometheus Shooting Moves to Iceland for "the Beginning of Time"". Archived from the original on June 17, 2012. Retrieved March 24, 2012. 
  • Leffman, David; and Proctor, James (2004). The Rough Guide To Iceland, Rough Guides, 281. ISBN 1-84353-289-1.

External links[edit]