Volcanic Eruption Near Reykjavik

Reykjavik, March 22, 2021

A volcano erupted in Iceland on Friday, March 19th, about 40km (25mi) southwest of Reykjavik.

The small, picturesque eruption on Reykjanes peninsula is only a fraction of the size of the Eyjafjallajokull eruption, which infamously shut down international air-traffic in 2010.

Geldingsdale

The eruption occurred on "Beautiful Valley Mountain" (Fagradalsfjall) in the remote "Geldingsdale" (Geldingadalur), so named by Viking-era settlers who used the enclosure as a pen for horses and other livestock.

The area is uninhabited and the eruption is not expected to present any danger to people or infrastructure. Iceland's airports all remain open and daily life continues as normal.

In recent days, people have hiked to the area to witness the eruption up close and local helicopter companies are offering tours from Reykjavik.

Effusive vs. explosive eruption

Geologists describe the eruption as "effusive", in which lava flows out of the volcano onto the ground, as opposed to "explosive", wherein magma is violently fragmented and rapidly expelled from a volcano, like Eyjafjallajokull 11-years ago.

The last eruption on the Reykjanes peninsula dates back almost 800 years to 1240.

The region has been under increased surveillance for several weeks after an earthquake of magnitude 5.7 was registered on February 24th in the outskirts of Reykjavik, followed by an unusual number of smaller tremors – more than 50,000, the highest number since digital recordings began in 1991.

Now that magma has reached the surface, the earthquakes have mostly subsided.

Located between the Eurasian and the North American tectonic plates, among the largest on the planet, Iceland is a seismic and volcanic hotspot as the two plates move in opposite directions. Iceland experiences a volcanic eruption once every 4-5 years on average.

Follow the eruption live

Here´s a live video feed of the eruption, courtesy of Icelandic State Broadcasting (RÚV).

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