From Iceland — When Will The Eruption Be Over?

When Will The Eruption Be Over?

Published October 19, 2021

Desirai Thompson
Photo by
Axel Sigurðarson

Volcanologist and seismologist Kristín Jónsdóttir has weighed in on when the eruption at Geldingadalur can be said to be over. In speaking with Fréttablaðið, Kristín said there are a lot of factors which go into determining if the eruption is still ongoing.

It’s been just over one month since the volcano was actively erupting, marking the longest lull in activity since the current eruption began. Fagradalsfjall last emitted fresh lava on September 18th.

“There are various things that go into it,” Kristín said, explaining the difficulty in determining the end of the eruption. “We need to look into the dangers that exist in the area and there is a considerable amount of lava that has accumulated in the lava field near the crater. A lava pond has formed there and there is a thin shell over it,” she continued.

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Kristín stresses that the length of time since magma has exited the crater is not necessarily an indication that the eruption has come to an end. She goes on, “Right now there is not much movement and one wonders if [the eruption] is completely done. It can be, but it can also be that the activity resumes and there are many examples of that happening–such breaks in eruptions.” These breaks in eruption may last for months at a time.

Kristín points out that, while lava is not currently emerging from the eruption channel, lava is continuing to flow. This is in reference to the black lava that can be seen at the eruption area which has hot lava moving beneath it. Gas is also continuing to rise from both the crater and lava field.

While it is impossible to determine the length of the eruption with accuracy right now, geoscientists believe this is the beginning of a new wave of volcanic eruptions in the Reykjanes peninsula which could last for up to hundreds of years. There had been no volcanic activity in the area for 800 years prior to this eruption.

The eruption site, which has become a major attraction since the volcano began spewing lava on March 19th, 2021, lies roughly 55 kilometres south of downtown Reykjavík–at an elevation of 385 metres. While the eruption may be calm at present, it is still vital to practice safety if you decide to travel to the area.

Stay up to date on all travel alerts around Iceland here.

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