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Volcanoes in Iceland | Will there be a volcanic eruption in Iceland!?

In latest days (March 2021), the information has been buzzing about volcanoes, earthquakes and a possible volcanic eruption in Iceland. The realm in query this time is the Reykjanes Peninsula. There have been over 17,000 earthquakes shaking Reykjavik and the encircling areas. Some earthquakes have even reached 5.6 on the Richter scale. So I assumed this might be a superb probability to debate the latest volcanic eruptions in Iceland and focus on the chance of one other eruption…quickly.

BREAKING NEWS: As of 4pm right now (third of March 2021) a press convention was held to debate the chance of an imminent eruption. It will appear that the possibilities of an eruption at the moment are very actual. The native residents within the space have been evacuated as a precaution. When and the way the volcano will erupt is but to be decided. The warning indicators counsel that an eruption within the Reykjanes Peninsula close to Keilir Mountain is the almost definitely situation if an eruption had been to happen. Within the occasion of an eruption on this space, plainly lava stream (effusive eruption), slightly than an explosive eruption, is prone to happen. That is much less prone to have an effect on flights out and in of Iceland regardless of its shut proximity to the airport. 

UPDATE (eighth March 2021) : Regardless of all the thrill of the previous week it might appear that issues are much less imminent than initially thought. Nonetheless, there are nonetheless a whole bunch of earthquakes going off in the identical space so who is aware of what’s going to occur within the coming days, weeks and months. 

Iceland, in recent times, is extra identified for its volcanic exercise than its glaciers regardless of the identify. Locals usually quip that Eldland (which means fireplace land in Icelandic) can be a extra acceptable identify. Contemplating there are round 130 volcanoes in Iceland I believe this wouldn’t be a nasty identify certainly. Particularly since Iceland’s new nickname is ‘The Land of Hearth and Ice’. In actual fact, one among our greatest promoting excursions South Coast: Hearth & Ice was impressed by Iceland’s volcanic previous. Throughout this journey we skirt across the well-known Eyjafjallajökull and take a look at the Icelandic Lava Present earlier than strolling to the entrance of the Sólheimajökull glacier.

DISCLAIMER: Don’t take something on this weblog put up as a helpful predictor for the subsequent volcanic eruption.

SPECIAL THANKS TO: Helen María Björnsdóttir of Native Information of Vatnajökull who offered lots of the footage. 



  1. Is a volcano about to erupt?
  2. How usually do volcanoes erupt in Iceland?
  3. Eyjafjallajökull and different latest eruption
  4. Historic eruptions
  5. Eldfell volcano on the Westman Islands

1. Is a volcano about to erupt?

Let’s focus on the elephant within the room earlier than we leap into Iceland’s volcanic previous.

Is the latest flurry of earthquakes a precursor to a volcanic eruption? Properly, in a phrase, sure. It definitely could be. Does that imply it would? Not essentially. Personally, with all of the ups and downs we’re feeling proper now I wouldn’t be keen to foretell a technique or one other.

Saying that, this stage of seismic exercise ‘can’ be one of many elements in figuring out if a volcano goes to erupt. Nonetheless, on any given day in Iceland there are dozens of small earthquakes throughout the nation. And over the previous few years there have been comparable earthquake swarms in different components of the island which resulted in no eruption. The newest, apart from the continued one proper now, was within the actual reverse facet of the nation within the north east final 12 months. The identical factor occurred within the south east in 2017. These had been all unconnected volcanic system.

Earthquakes in the Reykjanes 2021.

Many different elements are taken into consideration for the chance of a volcanic eruption. Earthquakes are after all an enormous one however change in land elevation, temperature change, elevated fuel launch and melting ice if below a glacier are additionally contributing indicators.

For the time being, apart from taking down breakables and checking wall fixtures, issues appear to be enterprise as regular. Earthquakes are a standard a part of life right here in Iceland and the early warning programs which can be at present in place are fairly refined certainly.

Nonetheless, on the first of March 2021, Fréttablaðið, reported that magma was doubtlessly on the transfer underground close to an remoted space known as Keilir. This can be a key sign up potential eruptions. Once more, it doesn’t assure an eruption although.

Fortunately, if this was to be the eruption website, there are not any settlements right here.

Successfully, an eruption might occur on this space sooner or later however keep in mind that the final time there was an eruption on this space was over 700 years in the past. So it could possibly be quickly or in no way.

If you’re keen on monitoring the state of affairs extra carefully over the approaching weeks then the Icelandic Meteorological Workplace updates a couple of occasions per day.

If you wish to go to this geothermally lively a part of Iceland for your self you possibly can be a part of our Reykjanes & Lava Tunnel tour. On at the present time journey, we enterprise into an actual life lava tunnel from an eruption 5200 years in the past and discover the acid rivers and erupting geysers of the area.

2. How usually do volcanoes erupt in Iceland?

There are over 130 named volcanoes throughout Iceland. Some are lively and others should not. These volcanoes are divided up into round 32 volcanic programs. Regardless of the massive variety of volcanoes throughout the nation only some dozen have erupted since Settlement within the 12 months 874AD and even much less up to now 120 years.

Among the extra lively volcanoes in Iceland are famous beneath (this isn’t a full checklist):

  1. Grímsvötn in Vatnajökull Nationwide Park (south east Iceland) is essentially the most lively volcano in Iceland with a median eruption frequency of 1 in each 10 years all through the final 1100 years.

  2. Bárðarbunga, additionally within the Vatnajökull Nationwide Park has recorded 26 volcanic eruptions within the final 1100 years giving it a median of 1 in each 50 years.

  3. Hekla within the south of Iceland can also be one of the vital lively volcanoes in Iceland, recording 23 eruptions within the final 1000 years. Gaps between eruptions throughout this era vary from 9 years to 121 years. The final eruption was within the 12 months 2000.

  4. Eyjafjallajökull within the south of Iceland has erupted each 350-400 years within the final 1500 years with 4 eruptions being recorded since settlement.

  5.  Katla within the south of Iceland, near Eyjafjallajökull is taken into account one of many greatest volcanoes however hasn’t erupted since 1918. On common this volcano has erupted each 50 years within the final 1100 years.

  6. Öræfajökull can also be the most important mountain in Iceland standing at 2,110m in peak. It has additionally recorded among the largest eruptions with 10km3 of tephra being ejected within the 1362 eruption. The final eruption was in 1727.

  7. Askja within the north east of Iceland final erupted in 1961 and normally has 2-3 eruptions each 100 years.

For a extra detailed have a look at Iceland’s lively volcanoes you possibly can try the interactive map at Iceland Volcanos. The Catalogue is a collaboration of the Icelandic Meteorological Workplace (the state volcano observatory), the Institute of Earth Sciences on the College of Iceland , and the Civil Safety Division of the Nationwide Commissioner of the Iceland Police, with contributions from a lot of specialists in Iceland and elsewhere.

All in all, this averages out at one volcanic eruption each 4-6 years…and it’s been 6 years because the final eruption. Hmm, curious….Although in earnest, to say that there ought to be an eruption each 4-6 years is somewhat deceptive. There could also be numerous volcanic exercise over a brief time frame after which nothing for many years. It will appear volcanoes don’t care an excessive amount of for averages.

On our 2 Day Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon & Ice Cave tour we move by many volcanoes, witnessing cooled lava fields close to the Laki volcano, sneaking behind the Seljalandsfoss waterfall beneath Eyjafjallajökull and even exploring an ice cave that’s on the base of Iceland’s greatest volcano, Öræfajökull.

3. Eyjafjallajökull and different volcanic eruptions

Was the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption the latest volcanic eruption in Iceland I hear you ask?

Nope! In actual fact, there have been 2 eruptions since then. Grímsvötn in 2011 and Bárðarbunga in 2014/15. Unusual that you simply haven’t heard of them proper?

I believe the explanation that these more moderen eruptions aren’t so well-known is as a result of they didn’t cease over 100,000 planes from flying. Eyjafjallajökull was an explosive eruption (Volcanic Explosivity Index 3) which ejected superb grained ash 8km into the air. The ash plume was immediately beneath the jet stream which helped the ash to journey south east and disrupt air journey throughout Europe.

If this ash bought into the aircraft engines it might clog the engines and make them stall. In 1982 a British Airways flight flew by means of a cloud of volcanic ash which resulted in all 4 engines stalling. Fortunately, the pilot was capable of glide the engine out of the cloud and restart the engines earlier than catastrophe struck. I believe you’ll agree that this can be a good warning name to maintain planes out of the sky whereas the volcano was erupting.

Eyjafjallajokull Eruption by Bjarki Sigursveinsson. Wikimedia Commons Image.

It was estimated that in that 6 week interval, airways misplaced over $1.7bn.

In distinction, the Grímsvötn eruption in 2011 solely lasted every week with the ash travelling north the place there may be far much less air site visitors. Just a few hundred planes had been landed throughout this time, regardless of it being a extra highly effective eruption (VEI 4).

The Bárðarbunga eruption in 2014/15 really lasted for much longer, round 6 months. Nonetheless, it was an effusive eruptions which means it was far much less explosive (VEI 1) and produced way more lava. Lava is presumably essentially the most image worthy impact of an eruption however on this case it was far much less disruptive outdoors of the instant stream fields.

Fortunately, nobody was killed throughout any of the latest eruptions. In actual fact, the 2 most up-to-date volcanic eruptions had been in such distant components of Iceland that it might be onerous to get there even with out lava and ash flying round all over the place. The closest you’ll get to both of those volcanoes is on our 2 Day Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon with Glacier Hike tour. Although admittedly we’re nonetheless effectively over 50km away. Nonetheless, in the summertime you will get nice views of the sting of the ice cap that stretches in direction of each volcanoes.

4. Historic Eruptions

There have been so many eruptions since settlement so I couldn’t doable focus on all of them right here. Nonetheless, there are 2 notable ones I’d like to say:

1. The Öræfajökull volcanic eruption in 1362

So the primary of those eruptions in 1362 was thought-about one of the vital devastating by way of direct misplaced life. Though the precise demise toll isn’t identified, it’s estimated that there have been as much as 400 folks settled on the base of the volcano on the time. The eruption was extremely explosive and produced 10km3 of silica tephra. For comparability, the Eyjafjallajökull eruption in 2010 produced solely 0.38km3 of tephra. Within the aftermath, the realm was coated in large quantities of tephra and ash and the farmlands had been destroyed by floods. The realm would without end be known as Öræfi which roughly interprets to wasteland in Iceland.

2. The Laki eruption in 1783

The second eruption I need to speak about is the 1783 Laki eruption. This was the second greatest eruption in Iceland’s historical past since settlement, with around15km3 of lava deposited. 9500 Icelanders and over 200,000 livestock misplaced their lives from the eruption and ensuing famine that ensued.  As famous by Thordarson (1993), The discharge of sulphur gases throughout fountaining produced an acid haze (aerosol) which unfold broadly and had a substantial environmental, and presumably climatic, impression on the Northern Hemisphere.

The temperature was estimated to have dropped by 1.3c within the areas affected by the eruption. This in flip created an intense winter throughout Europe, leading to floods and deep freezes. Many crops failed in Iceland and others had been affected throughout Europe. It’s estimated that 20% of the Icelandic inhabitants died from the ensuing famine and illness after the eruption. It was described within the Iceland Chronicles because the “Haze Famine.” Some declare that the hardship brought on by the eruption spurred on the eventual French Revolution in 1789 however these claims are anecdotal at greatest.

5. Eldfell volcano on the Westman Islands

This remaining eruption will get a complete part to itself due to its fantastic story. The story of the Eldfell eruption of 1973.

This eruption was on the principle island of Heimaey throughout the Westman Islands. Sadly, this is among the few occasions in recent times that somebody died immediately due to a volcanic eruption in Iceland. Fortunately, this isn’t an everyday incidence regardless of the variety of eruptions in Iceland.

The island had over 4000 inhabitants again within the 70s. So when the volcano started to erupt only some hundred metres from the city it was full on evacuation mode. Exceptionally, inside 24 hours the whole inhabitants had been safely escorted off the island. It was the largest evacuation in Iceland’s historical past.

Nonetheless, after a short while on the mainland, the locals realised that the eruption, although lethal, had sluggish shifting lava. That meant they may enterprise again onto the island safely. They realised that they may use large hoses to attract water from the ocean and begin to spray the lava day and night time. This cooled the lava in a single part and created a pure barrier which compelled the remaining lava out to sea. Ultimately, only some hundred homes had been destroyed. Sadly, one native succumbed to fuel publicity. However, contemplating the whole city might have been destroyed, this was a monumental triumph in Icelandic historical past. By the point the eruption stopped the island had gained over 20% further land.

To see this historic sight you possibly can be a part of us on our Volcanic Westman Islands tour. On this tour we stroll to the highest of the Eldfell volcano searching for nice views and sizzling pockets. The volcano continues to be lively in spite of everything, although no lava on the floor anymore fortunately.

Get in contact!

If you’re suitably impressed to come back and see this surprise of nature then you possibly can get in contact. I hope I made Iceland sound thrilling slightly than terrifying. You may also merely click on on any of the hyperlinks of the excursions talked about within the web page. In any case, it’s onerous to discover a tour that’s run in Iceland that doesn’t have one thing volcano associated.

Ryan Connolly | Marketing Manager, Guide, Co - Owner | Hidden Iceland

Hello, I’m Ryan Connolly; Co-Founder and Advertising and marketing Supervisor of Hidden Iceland.

I’ve guided in a number of nations world wide and stepped foot on all 7 continents. My ardour for the outside, science, nature, glaciers and volcanoes has led me to review and write about Iceland. I’ve been interviewed in ForbesConde Nast Traveller and Journey Pulse on numerous topics.

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