Iceland Volcano Eruption 2021

Iceland Volcano Eruption 2021

After weeks of earthquakes, the Geldingadalir volcano in the Fagradalsfjall area of Iceland started erupting on March 19th, 2021 and continues after a month. The eruption was predicted by experts.

Close to the Icelandic capital

Fagradalsfjall is located on the Reykjanes peninsula in southwest Iceland, only 30 kilometres from the capital Reykjavik. The eruption – the first in 800 years – is considered to be small and very different from the explosive Eyjafjallajökull eruption in 2010, which disrupted air traffic in Europe for weeks. In fact, the Fagradalsfjall eruption has no ash cloud and poses no threat to infrastructure or towns. In the first half of April,  a number of new fissures opened close to the original site of the eruption. At present there are no signs that the eruption will stop anytime soon.

Estimated 30,000 visitors

Large numbers of people, mainly from Iceland, visit the site of the eruption. From the start of the eruption on March 19th, to the end of the first week in April, the volcano had already drawn an estimated 30,000 visitors. That equals almost 10% of the total population of Iceland. The hike to the eruption site is not easy, around 5 km one way through the mountains, including a couple of steep parts, of which some must be scaled with the help of a rope. The weather in March and April can be quite challenging, with stong winds and very low temperatures, sometimes dropping to -10 degrees centigrade.

But this doesn’t seem to stop the Icelandic people from going there. The mood is very happy and cheerful, almost like a festival. People are grilling marshmallows in the lava, bringing radios or even a guitar, and taking their time to enjoy the spectacle. The gentle lava flow allows people to get very close to the eruption.

A distraction from Covid-19

One of the reasons this eruption has attracted large numbers of visitors is that it is close to the capital Reykjavik and not considered too dangerous for the public. People in Iceland have reported being bored by COVID-19 lockdown measures and consider the eruption to be a welcome distraction. However, the large number of visitors comes with the increased risk of the virus spreading in Iceland. Nevertheless, few visitors wear face masks and not everyone adheres to social distancing rules. The Icelandic government monitors cars arriving at the eruption site, to check if there are any foreign tourists who should be in quarantine. Because of the travel restrictions, the vast majority of visitors to the volcano are from Iceland. This might change within a couple of months, as the eruption continues.

Icelanders proud of their volcanos

On average, a volcano erupts every 4 to 5 years in Iceland. Icelanders are proud of their volcanoes. As Icelandic artist Björk stated on her Instagram account, “YESSS !! , eruption !! we in iceland are sooo excited !!! we still got it !!! sense of relief when nature expresses herself !!! ”.

Gallery of images

If you’d like to explore more of Theo’s images, take a look at our new gallery of  images of the Geldingadalir volcano.