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  • Writer's pictureJón Heiðar Rúnarsson

Reykjanes volcanic eruption: Will it affect North Iceland?

Updated: Jul 10, 2023

Now the southwest corner of Iceland shakes and rattles once more and we wait for the next volcanic eruption on Reykjanes peninsula, which, according to scientists, is imminent. The proximity of Fagradalsfjall volcano to Iceland's capital city, Reykjavík, and the main international airport, Keflavík, makes this volcanic activity both very accessible and frightening.


Check out these important websites re. eruptions and safety:

safetravel.is is the main source for traveler safety when exploring Iceland.

erkomideldgos.is/en simply answers the question: is there or is there not an eruption right now?

icelandicvolcanoes.is is an interactive catalogue of Icelandic volcanoes.

LIVE - Iceland volcano - Eruption in Meradalir shows a live stream from the expected eruption site.


Photo from our visit to the Reykjanes volcanic eruption in 2021.

A woman watching the Reykjanes Volcanic Eruption
Reykjanes Volcanic Eruption

Reykjanes Volcanic Eruption: Will it Affect North Iceland?


If you, like us, are in North Iceland, or about to travel here, you might be left wondering if an eruption in the South might affect us here in the North:


The last two eruptions on the Reykjanes peninsula were small and had very little effect on daily life in Iceland. However, there is always the possibility of the eruption going on for long enough to cause lava flowing over the roads. That could close off the main infrastructure on the peninsula, such as the international airport (but we have people working on a solution).


Apart from that, a Reykjanes Volcanic Eruption is very unlikely to have any effect on the rest of the country.


Especially if you are coming to Akureyri by cruise ship you have nothing to worry about. You will still get to enjoy our Zipline Akureyri tour and everything else Akureyri and the surrounding area has to offer.


Eager to learn more about Volcanic Eruptions in Iceland?


To understand Iceland, and in fact Icelanders, it can be helpful to take a closer look at the history of volcanic eruptions in Iceland.


Reykjanes Volcanic Activity.

Iceland: Volcanic Eruption Highlights.


 

Reykjanes Volcanic Activity


The Fagradalsfjall volcano erupted in 2021 and 2022 and as this is written, July 7th 2023, it is considered very likely that an eruption might happen in the coming days. Throughout history there have been long periods with frequent eruptions in Reykjanes peninsula and scientists have suggested that one such period has already started again. Before this, the last eruption on the peninsula was in the year 1240.


It's important to note that the Reykjanes Peninsula is a geologically complex region. Other volcanic features and smaller volcanic systems exist, showcasing the ongoing tectonic and volcanic activity in the area.


Iceland: Volcanic Eruption Highlights


Iceland is a country known for its stunning landscapes and unique geology. One of the most fascinating natural phenomena in Iceland is volcano activity. The island sits on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, where two tectonic plates, the North American Plate and the Eurasian Plate, meet. This geological hotspot creates a dynamic environment with frequent volcanic eruptions.


Volcanoes in Iceland can be both awe-inspiring and powerful. When a volcano erupts, molten rock, called magma, rises to the surface, causing lava flows and explosive eruptions. These eruptions can release a tremendous amount of heat, gases, and volcanic ash into the air.


The volcanic activity in Iceland has shaped the country's landscape over thousands of years. It has created vast lava fields, majestic mountains, and even new islands. Some of the most famous volcanoes in Iceland include Eyjafjallajökull, which erupted in 2010, and the ongoing volcanic activity at the Fagradalsfjall volcano, which started in March 2021.


Although volcanic eruptions can be unpredictable and potentially dangerous, Iceland has developed advanced monitoring systems to ensure the safety of its residents and visitors. Scientists closely monitor volcano activity using seismometers, gas detectors, and satellite imagery to detect any signs of an imminent eruption.


Volcano activity in Iceland also attracts adventurers and nature enthusiasts from around the world. People come to witness the raw power of nature and explore the unique volcanic landscapes. Volcano tours and hiking trips allow visitors to experience the geothermal wonders up close, including hot springs, geysers, and volcanic craters.

It's important to remember that volcanic activity should always be approached with caution and respect. It's essential to follow safety guidelines and listen to the advice of local authorities when visiting volcanic areas. By doing so, visitors can have a memorable and safe experience while marveling at the incredible volcanic activity in Iceland.


In the last century, Iceland experienced several notable volcano eruptions that left a lasting impact on the country. These eruptions were not only significant events but also attracted worldwide attention.


Fagradalsfjall 2021

In recent years, volcanic activity in Iceland has continued to capture the world's attention. One notable eruption started in March 2021 at Fagradalsfjall, located on the Reykjanes Peninsula. This eruption was unique because it occurred in an accessible area, allowing people to witness the eruption up close. Many locals and tourists flocked to the site to observe the flowing lava and experience the raw energy of a volcanic eruption. The eruption became a popular tourist attraction, attracting visitors from all over the world.


Eyjafjallajökull 2010

Another significant eruption took place in 2010 and involved the Eyjafjallajökull volcano. This eruption attracted global attention due to its impact on air travel. The volcano's ash plume reached high altitudes and posed a risk to aircraft engines. As a precautionary measure, air traffic across Europe was disrupted for several days, causing widespread travel chaos. The eruption created breathtaking scenes as lava flowed down the slopes of the volcano, and the ash cloud created stunning sunsets. Although the eruption caused inconvenience, it also highlighted the power of nature and reminded us of Iceland's volatile geology.


Vestmannaeyjar 1973

One of the most famous volcanic eruptions in Iceland's history occurred in 1973. It took place in the Westman Islands, specifically on the island of Heimaey. The eruption began unexpectedly, with a fissure opening up in the middle of a residential area. The eruption led to the evacuation of the entire population of Heimaey, ensuring their safety. Lava flowed through the town, destroying many houses and buildings. However, the quick response and efforts of the locals, along with the Icelandic authorities, prevented any casualties. The eruption lasted for several months, and when it finally stopped, the island was forever changed, with new lava formations and a transformed landscape.


These volcanic eruptions serve as a reminder of Iceland's active geology and the forces that have shaped the country over centuries. They showcase the resilience of the Icelandic people and their ability to adapt to the unpredictable nature of their environment. Volcano eruptions, while disruptive, also provide opportunities for scientific research and offer visitors a chance to witness the awe-inspiring power of nature firsthand.


North Iceland: Volcanic Activity


North Iceland is known for its rich volcanic activity, with several active and dormant volcanoes scattered throughout the region. Here are some notable active volcanoes in the north:


Krafla

Krafla is a volcanic system located in the northeast region of Iceland. It has been active numerous times throughout history, with the most recent eruption occurring between 1975 and 1984. The Krafla area is also known for its geothermal activity, including hot springs and the Krafla Geothermal Power Station.


In the last century, there was a notable volcano eruption in North Iceland that left a significant impact on the region. The eruption occurred in 1975 and took place in an area called Krafla, which is part of the larger Krafla volcanic system.


The eruption in Krafla lasted for about nine years, making it one of the longest-lasting eruptions in Iceland's history. It started with a series of powerful volcanic explosions, which created fissures in the ground and released lava and volcanic gases. The lava flows covered a large area, changing the landscape dramatically.


During the eruption, there were several episodes of intense volcanic activity. These episodes involved not only lava flows but also the formation of volcanic craters and the release of volcanic ash. The ash from the eruption reached high altitudes and was carried by the wind, affecting nearby towns and villages.


One of the most significant aspects of the Krafla eruption was its impact on geothermal energy. The eruption occurred in an area rich in geothermal resources, and as a result, it disrupted the nearby geothermal power station. This event led to the temporary shutdown of the power plant, causing electricity shortages in the region.


Since the eruption, the Krafla volcanic area has become a popular tourist destination. Visitors can explore the unique volcanic landscapes, including lava fields and steaming geothermal areas. The Krafla region is also known for its stunning crater lakes, such as Víti, which formed during previous eruptions.


Holuhraun 2014 - 2015

The Holuhraun eruption was a significant volcanic event that took place in Iceland between August 2014 and February 2015. It occurred in a remote area of the Icelandic highlands, northeast of the Bárðarbunga volcano.


During the Holuhraun eruption, vast amounts of lava were emitted, making it one of the largest eruptions in Iceland's history. The lava flows covered an area of approximately 85 square kilometers, making it larger than Manhattan. The lava continued to flow for nearly six months, gradually filling up nearby valleys and creating new landscapes.


Today, the area affected by the Holuhraun eruption is still in the process of recovering. The volcanic landscape showcases the power and beauty of nature, with extensive lava fields and unique geological formations. It serves as a reminder of the ever-changing and dynamic nature of Iceland's volcanic activity.


Askja

Askja is a volcanic caldera situated in the central highlands of North Iceland. It last erupted in 1961 but is still considered an active volcano. The caldera features a large lake called Öskjuvatn, and within it lies the smaller crater lake, Víti. Askja's rugged landscapes and volcanic formations attract adventurers and hikers.


Hverfjall

Hverfjall, also known as Hverfell, is a volcanic tuff ring located near Lake Mývatn in North Iceland. It was formed during a volcanic eruption around 2,500 years ago. Hverfjall is an impressive sight with its circular shape and steep slopes. Visitors can hike to the summit for panoramic views of the surrounding area.


Herðubreið

Herðubreið is a stratovolcano situated in the northeastern highlands of Iceland. It is often referred to as the "Queen of Icelandic Mountains" due to its distinctive pyramid-like shape. Herðubreið has not erupted in recorded history and is currently considered dormant. The mountain is a popular hiking destination for experienced climbers.


Tjörnes

Tjörnes Fracture Zone: While not a single volcano, the Tjörnes Fracture Zone is a seismically active area located off the northern coast of Iceland. It is characterized by a series of faults and fissures that run across the region. This zone has experienced numerous small to moderate volcanic eruptions throughout history.


It's important to note that volcanic activity can be unpredictable, and these volcanoes have the potential to erupt in the future. If you plan to visit these areas, always follow local guidance and adhere to safety precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.


Stay safe!

Now, that you have more knowledge and understanding about volcanic activity in Iceland, we hope you feel safe in travelling to our beautiful country. And maybe, hopefully, you'll get to experience the sight of an active volcanic eruption. In this case, please stay safe by respecting the guidelines given by authorities. And take lots of photos!

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