Monday, January 30, 2023


Volcanic eruption in Iceland! It lastly occurred!

On Friday, the nineteenth of March 2021, a volcanic eruption started within the Reykjanes Peninsula, only a brief drive from Reykjavík metropolis. It’s the primary time in virtually 800 years we’ve had an eruption on this space. You’ve possible seen it within the information. Now get the within scoop from Physician Holly Spice for her second visitor weblog submit on this energetic a part of Iceland. Don’t fear, we’ll tag in on the finish to debate what this implies for tourism in Iceland too and reply a few of your ceaselessly requested questions.

PLEASE NOTE: The volcano stopped erupting in September 2021, abandoning a large cooled lava discipline and smoking crater. Regardless of the shortage of exercise it’s nonetheless worthy of a reasonable hike. 

Physician Holly Spice is a information for Hidden Iceland and presently holds a PhD learning the geochemistry of Icelandic basaltic lavas. She first wrote about this volcanic web site previous to the eruption. You may see her detailed ideas on the approaching eruption right here

Visitor author: Dr. Holly Spice

It was first observed on webcams and by locals to the Grindavík space as an orange glow that lit up the night time sky. Over 50,000 earthquakes over a 3-week interval preceded the eruption, frequently shaking Reykjavík and different close by cities. The eruption started simply because the earthquake exercise appeared to be considerably lowering, taking scientists and locals without warning. One specialist had even been on the information earlier within the day reporting that an eruption was changing into much less possible. Mom nature strikes once more.

The Gerlingadalur Volcano by Dr. Holly Spice. Hidden Iceland (1)

Volcanic Eruption in Iceland: The lead up

Over the previous 3 weeks, locals and volcano fanatics world wide have been following the seismic exercise, which was brought on by the intrusion of a dyke, a 1-2m vast, 7km lengthy vertical intrusion of magma into the crust.

The most important query on everybody’s minds: will the magma make it to the floor?

That query was answered when the eruption started in Geldingadalur valley within the Fagradalsfjall hills, at 20:45 native time. This was the world that had seen probably the most intense earthquake exercise because the dyke was intruded. The final time this explicit space of Reykjanes had an eruption was over 6,000 years in the past, and previous to the onset of the earthquakes 3 weeks beforehand, virtually no one would have thought of it possible that this space can be the positioning of Iceland’s subsequent eruption. 

The Gerlingadalur Volcano by Dr. Holly Spice. Hidden Iceland (12).

Preliminary Observations of the Volcanic Eruption

On Saturday morning after some preliminary scientific flights over the world, it was confirmed {that a} fissure of round 200m in size had opened and that an effusive eruption of lava was happening. This was the primary volcanic eruption in Iceland because the Holuhraun eruption in 2014 / 15.

In this sort of eruption, fluid basaltic lava is steadily erupted by fissures and/or craters after which flows away from the eruption web site to type a lava discipline. Volcanic ash seen within the different explosive major sort of Icelandic eruption shouldn’t be current, nonetheless the emission of poisonous gases can pose a hazard across the eruption web site.

The Gerlingadalur Volcano by Dr. Holly Spice. Hidden Iceland (13).

A Go to To A Dwell Volcanic Eruption

By Sunday, it turned clear that the authorities weren’t going to stop the general public from visiting the eruption web site, so I made a decision to make the journey to Geldingadalur to see my first ever volcanic eruption in Iceland. Actually, it was my first volcanic eruption ever. As a geologist whose speciality is within the chemistry of basaltic Icelandic lava, this was a dream come true for me. One thing I’ve been lengthy anticipating, and naturally, speaking about on my excursions. Seeing it with my very own eyes wildly exceeded even my very own very excessive expectations, and it’s a day I’ll always remember for the remainder of my life. 10/10 would go once more. 

On the stroll to the volcano, you immediately come over the rise of a hill and are greeted with a powerful web site, a crater throwing glowing scorching lava into the air! I couldn’t think about a extra excellent model of a volcano. Should you requested a small little one to attract an image of 1, they might draw precisely this.

The Gerlingadalur Volcano by Dr. Holly Spice. Hidden Iceland (2).

How Does It Examine to Different Volcanic Eruptions in Iceland

The eruption at Geldingadalur is tiny in comparison with these produced by different Icelandic volcanoes. Nonetheless it’s exactly this that makes it so particular and distinctive for those who go to it. It’s doable to get so near the crater that you may virtually contact it (not really helpful!). You may simply stroll round the entire lava discipline in a number of hours and consider the eruption from all angles. The warmth retains you good and heat, even within the Icelandic winter. This can be very uncommon to have the ability to get so near mom nature’s biggest and most basic course of. It’s actually a once-in-a-many-lifetimes expertise.

Being so shut, I used to be in a position to witness with my very own eyes for the primary time, many issues I had studied in concept about eruption processes, however had by no means seen for myself. It introduced many issues I had discovered at college to life.

When the lava is first erupted from the crater, it’s fluid and glows orange. It then very quickly cools within the air to type a laborious brittle crust on the floor. This crust insulates the lava beneath and permits it to stay molten and proceed to movement. Lava fields can cowl large distances on this manner.

The Gerlingadalur Volcano by Dr. Holly Spice. Hidden Iceland (4).

Lava kinds of this Volcanic Eruption

Each varieties of basaltic lava movement are current within the lava discipline. These are pahoehoe and a’a lava. Pahoehoe lava has a easy or ropey floor and is fashioned by gradual effusion of fluid lava. A skinny pores and skin types virtually instantly on the floor which is wrinkled and bunched right into a ropey texture because the molten lava continues to movement beneath. The movement is gradual sufficient that it doesn’t break up the crust. Pahoehoe lava flows are usually skinny (up to a couple 10s of centimeters) and include many overlapping skinny lava flows. 

A’a lava is fashioned the place the effusion and movement charges of lava are larger. The brittle lava crust turns into fragmented and damaged as lava flows beneath, leading to a rubbly, tough look. Because the lava entrance advances, the blocks are rolled alongside and tumble off the steep entrance of the lava movement and are then buried because the lava advances additional. This produces a thick (as much as 10 meters) lava movement, with a rubbly high and backside. The rubbly high permits the inside of the movement to stay molten and proceed to advance.

Crater Dynamics

One other attention-grabbing course of to look at is the change and progress of the craters. When the volcanic eruption started on Friday night time, there have been 6 small craters on the road of the fissure all erupting lava. By Sunday, three of those craters had gone extinct and one giant crater had taken over as the primary supply of lava. Two smaller craters additionally remained energetic. 

One week later, one of many small craters has grown a lot that it’s virtually the identical dimension as the primary crater. It’s possible that the 2 craters will merge to type one giant crater. The craters develop regularly because the lava that’s thrown into the air lands on the perimeters of the crater and cools, including to the pile. Typically the facet of the crater partially collapses permitting lava to immediately rush out, nonetheless it shortly builds again up once more.   

Lava by Evening

Not being glad with only one viewing of the volcano, I headed again on Tuesday night to see it at night time. If doable, this was maybe an much more magnificent sight. The glowing lava discipline actually comes alive in the dead of night and also you see the lava channels in rather more element. I undoubtedly advocate visiting in the dead of night should you get the prospect. I may have stayed there all night time watching the present. Sadly the world was evacuated attributable to harmful ranges of volcanic fuel accumulating across the web site because the wind dropped. On the drive residence, the northern lights got here out and I managed to seize them over the glow of the eruption within the distance. The Land of Ice and Fireplace at her best.

A Lengthy Lived Volcanic Eruption in Iceland?

There are a number of features of this volcanic eruption in Iceland which can be trigger for particular consideration. Firstly, the chemistry of the lava could be very primitive, which implies it’s shut in composition to the mantle that melted to type it. The lava comes straight from the mantle (the gooey, scorching inside of the Earth that underlies the crust), from a depth of 15-20 km and isn’t saved within the crust in a magma chamber on the best way to the floor.

Lava on Reykjanes is often pretty primitive, nonetheless such primitive compositions as this haven’t been noticed in Iceland for round 7,000 years. Lavas with related compositions are present in protect volcanoes that had been erupted quickly after the glacial ice-sheets retreated. Defend volcanoes are low-angled volcanoes that resemble a Viking protect and might be energetic for a lot of a few years. 

Along with the chemistry, the eruption price of the lava has been remarkably regular because it started. Each of those observations have led specialists to counsel that this may very well be an eruption that lasts for a lot of months and even many years. Maybe you then don’t want to fret that you’re lacking out! If we’re fortunate, the eruption will proceed after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and worldwide guests will get an opportunity to see the eruption for themselves.

Nonetheless, earlier than you get too excited, I want to warning that the eruption is barely a number of weeks previous, and scientists are removed from being certain about this. The eruption may additionally die out inside the coming days. Volcanoes are infamous for being repeatedly stunning and laborious to foretell. The one factor we will do is cross our fingers and wait to see how the state of affairs performs out.

What does this imply for tourism in Iceland?

Hidden Iceland tagging in to reply a few of your ceaselessly requested questions (up to date twelfth February 2022)? 

Did this volcanic eruption cease airways from flying like within the 2010 eruption?

As Holly talked about, this can be a quite small effusive volcanic eruption in Iceland, with little or no ash. So, although it’s lower than half-hour drive to the Keflavik Worldwide Airport, flight schedules weren’t altered in any respect. Due to this fact, in lieu of one other eruption within the space, we fortunately didn’t have endure widespread flight cancellations like within the Eyjafjallajökull eruption in 2010.

Is it secure to go that near the volcano? 

This was a very distinctive volcanic eruption in Iceland. It was small and primarily lava (effusive). That signifies that with quite a lot of monitoring and safety from the Icelandic authorities we had been in a position to go to the volcano web site whereas it was erupting. This didn’t imply it was secure although. Volcanic eruptions are unpredictable and might change at any second so even with these safeguards in place there have been loads of days throughout that point that we selected to not go (or had been compelled to not go in some circumstances) attributable to elevated fuel ranges and harmful exercise.

Regardless of the shortage of exercise today. There may be nonetheless an inherent hazard. Lava nonetheless hides beneath the cooled crust within the lava discipline and crater. This implies steam, cracks and warmth can emanate out with out seen cues. The lava discipline can nonetheless be harmful. There’s no query about that, so at all times go together with a information should you can.

The most important concern, at current, is the extent of poisonous gases. The hazard of lava might be apparent and observable. A construct up of fuel can not. Most of those gases can’t be detected by odor and might construct up shortly, particularly in a valley space like at Geldingadalur. Fortunately, the fuel ranges have diminished because the eruption stopped however they’re in no way gone. We hold a fuel monitor on us always, simply in case.

So how do I do know if it’s secure to go to that day?

A very good supply to test is or most of the native information stations like Wanting on the climate and notably the wind velocity and course, may give you indication of whether or not the fuel will likely be settling within the valley, blowing in the direction of you or being sifted away in the other way. Who would have ever thought we’d be hoping for a windy day in Iceland. Fortunately, these are fairly frequent on this a part of Iceland.

Additionally, upon arrival on the path the native authorities will shortly flip you away if the situations have modified for the more severe.

How do I get to the volcanic eruption web site?

There are a number of automobile parks on the south facet of the peninsula, round 10 minutes east of the city of Grindavik. There, you’ll be able to park your automobile on the newly created parking tons and begin the hike.

Upon getting parked your automobile, there’s a map that can be utilized to view the totally different mountain climbing trails, although all are effectively marked out. You’ll additionally possible see many different vacationers flowing backwards and forwards on the trail too on a transparent day. Actually, if you’re following a path and also you don’t see anybody else round perhaps this can be a signal that you’ve both went the mistaken manner or the world is closed.

Within the early days of the eruption, folks had been forging their very own routes in all instructions. Some would take something from 5 to 12 hours over tough terrain. Nonetheless, now that the eruption has ended (for now), there are simpler mountain climbing paths. Some taking as little as quarter-hour to get to the cooled lava discipline. Others round 1 and a half hours. It’s comparatively flat aside from one comparatively steep hill that requires full mobility of ankles and knees, akin to a stair case.

What ought to I carry with me?

Sadly, Search and Rescue and the police service have had for use on quite a few events because the eruption started (even after the eruptions stopped). This had little to do with the lava movement or gases, however quite folks making an attempt to go to the volcano unprepared. Reviews of individuals exhibiting up in denims and trainers in the course of an Icelandic winter has change into frequent place. Others merely underestimated the problem and distance.

Our recommendation, is to think about this a full day outing no matter how lengthy you count on it to final. Meaning you must carry waterproofs, a number of layers, hats and gloves, loads of water, snacks and lunch, absolutely charged headtorch, battery pack and facemask (to stop unfold of COVID-19). Even bringing blister plasters and a small first assist package with an emergency blanket to maintain you heat may very well be the distinction between a enjoyable hike and a painful trek.

Additionally alert the authorities of your journey plans, particularly if you’re going in the course of the night time. You are able to do this on Safetravel.

Will Hidden Iceland be operating excursions to the volcano?

Since we first opened our doorways, we’ve got at all times been excited by the Reykjanes peninsula and operating excursions there. So now, all we’ve accomplished is add within the viewpoint of the volcano alongside the Lava Tunnel and different Reykjanes sights. Take a look at our tour right here.

Nonetheless, if there’s no availability you may get in contact with us at or submit a non-public tour type and we will prepare one thing particular for you. Planning a personal journey to the volcano is one thing that we are going to take care and warning in planning. Solely as soon as we’ve got affirmation from the Icelandic Authorities on any given day will we go forward with the go to.

We’re effectively versed in wilderness terrain, glaciers, ice caves, climate publicity and maintain a complete security administration plan. To not point out, proud holders of the Vakinn High quality and Environmental Certificates. Now our security administration plan should embrace volcanic eruptions too. Assessing and mitigating danger is our high precedence for any journey however with cautious planning we consider we will go to the volcano safely, beneath course of the Icelandic Authorities. Nonetheless, please keep in mind that there’ll at all times be danger, like lots of our excursions, when getting into an unknown wilderness terrain.


In case you are suitably impressed to go to this energetic a part of the nation then you’ll be able to ebook Hidden Iceland’s small group tour of Reykjanes, Volcano and the Lava Tunnel. Or should you choose a personal tour so as to embrace a visit to the volcano itself then you’ll be able to merely get in contact and we’ll plan one thing particular collectively. Oh, and ensure to ask for Holly as your information!

See you there!

Dr. Holly Spice. Our Hidden Iceland glacier guide. About Us.

Hello, I’m Holly, geologist and glacier information at Hidden Iceland. I’ve a PhD throughout which I studied the geochemistry of Icelandic basaltic lavas. When on tour, I like to show folks about volcanoes and geology! I’m additionally a passionate climber and out of doors fanatic.



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