Volcano Eruption in Reykjavik 2021: 10 Important Information for Tourists

3 minute read05 Jun 2021

Iceland is an exceptional natural laboratory where almost all of the principal geological processes can be observed.  It is therefore an ideal place for amateurs as well as professionals to observe how Mother Nature operates.

The Iceland Plateau is geologically very young and all of its rocks were formed within the past 25 million years and all stratigraphic successions on Iceland fall into the geological periods Teritary and Quarternary.

The Land of Ice and Fire is once again living up to its name; a new eruption is occurring in Iceland! Within Geldingadalur valley, gleaming lava can be found running in molten rivers and spurting in spectacular jets from Fagradalsfjall volcano.

There are plenty of sites to safely visit on your trip to Iceland, the aftermath of recent or ancient Volcano Eruption in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Discover all you need to know about Volcano Eruption in Reykjavik, Iceland! Here, you can find a wealth of beautiful photographs and important information about Iceland’s most recently active volcano for tourists.

How Often do Volcanoes Erupt in Iceland?

Volcanic eruptions are pretty unpredictable, but in Iceland, they occur relatively regularly. There isn’t really a pattern in which volcanoes erupt. It just happens. The only consistency that has been tracked over the past two hundred years is that there has been at least one eruption each decade.

The most recent eruption of an Icelandic volcano that scientists can be certain of was in 2014. The Holuhraun volcano in the Highlands had a relatively large eruption which created a beautiful lava field that spanned more than 85 square kilometers in size.

In 2010 Eyjafjallajökull had a major eruption, as well, that really shook up the world. This massive volcano’s eruption caused a huge cloud of ash to spread to the UK and continental Europe which grounded many flights. Flights were cancelled and air travel was a mess.

Scientists suspect that there are more volcanic eruptions but cannot be sure because many do not completely break the frozen seals that have formed over the craters.

The eruption at Fagradalsfjall (Geldingadalsgos volcano)

1. On 19 March 2021, there was a minor volcanic eruption at Mount Fagradalsfjall in the Geldingadalur valley. A fissure appeared, of around 200 metres (656 feet), spouting hot lava and creating one of Iceland’s newest volcanoes.

But don’t worry about air traffic and the like. This eruption wasn’t as significant as Eyjafjallajökull in 2010 due to the nature of this specific volcano. The lava is slowly snaking its way down a closed valley rather than ejecting a column of ashes into the sky.

2. Because of its accessibility and the predictability of its eruption, Fagradalsfjall is a very visitor-friendly site! Although none know how long the eruption here will last - with some estimating it has just days left - certain operators have made the most of the moment and found a way to let guests witness this magnificent natural phenomenon.

3. While you can visit without an experienced guide, it is not recommended, as no roads lead directly to the site, meaning you’ll have to hike for several hours; only certain operators have permission to drive closer. This is very challenging for those who are not knowledgeable of the local area, particularly considering the rugged terrain and cold winter weather. You can Book Private Day Tours or Half day tours.

4. Visiting and marveling over the eruption at Fagradalsfjall is a breathtaking experience that you will want to capture on camera. Videos and photographs of this phenomenon are already inspiring awe to any who seek them out online and promise to provide incredible mementos that you can treasure for life.

Because of the vivid brightness of the lava, almost any camera or half-decent phone will allow you to snap some incredible shots of it. However, those looking for images and footage that are truly extraordinary will want to bring a drone.

5. Before just rushing to the site with all your technical equipment, it is important to know the rules of flying drones in Iceland, you can learn about this in-depth, the main restrictions for their use at Fagradalsfjall are below:

  • The drone must be marked with your name, address, and phone number
  • The drone cannot exceed 25 kilograms
  • Keep the drone below 250 meters
  • Do not fly over the crowds
  • Keep your drone away from other drones and far away from any manned aircraft

6. Despite its epic beauty and awe-inspiring power, Fagradalsfjall is not just small compared to Iceland's recent eruptions; it is practically minuscule. Its predecessors had been pretty dramatic in its defense, but it is a classic example of a minor volcanic event in the country.

7. Fagradalsfjall has remained largely uninhabited since settlement; the nearest town is Grindavik, about seven kilometers away. This is because of steep-sloped valleys, which largely prevent the area from being easily accessible. Furthermore, its inland location was useless to the fishing communities who relied on the seas to survive.

8. For those who want to visit the eruption site, remember that there are no direct roads leading there. This would mean a long hike over difficult terrain in unpredictable weather conditions. You might be able to view the eruption from a distance from the surrounding areas, but make sure to take all safety precautions before you do so.

9. The area near the volcano was also closed for a while, partially because of the air quality. So, to be extra safe, you may want to just head west from the airport, to Reykjavik and beyond. The air might be fine, and the eruption might lessen. But if the wind is calm, the air quality may be poor on the day you arrive!

10. Experts had initially predicted that the eruption of the fissure near Mount Fagradalsfjall, just 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the capital Reykjavik, would be brief, likely dying out after a few days.

But due to the constancy of the lava flow and based on the first analyses of the magma, they now suspect the eruption could be a long-hauler.

Along with the eruption, there is not only lava but harmful gas is also being released. It’s especially harmful if it is in high concentration levels. At the time of writing, gas pollution hasn’t been detected in the areas close by but visitors are still asked to remain upwind and on higher grounds. For the time being, it’s best to pay close attention to the updates released by local authorities.

Dofri Hermansson

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