Eruption Iceland 2021: Fagradalsfjall
Information & media by RUV.is and the MET Icelandic office
What do we know about the eruption in Iceland of 2021? On the afternoon of March 19th, 2021, at 8:45 p.m. Icelandic time, a volcanic eruption took place in Geldingadalur (Fagradalsfjall), on the Reykjanes Peninsula, southwest of Iceland. According to initial information, the fissure is about 500 meters long. According to geophysicists, the eruption is not large. The eruption is slightly visible from the capital area, and from towns on the Reykjanes Peninsula the red glow is clearly visible.
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Eruption Iceland 2021:
Scientists have flown over the eruption sites in a Coast Guard helicopter and an Isavia plane. The fissure measures between 500 and 700 meters and contains eruptions 100 meters high. There are two lava flows in progress, the main stream descending to Geldingadalur, which receives a considerable amount of lava. The other stream is heading south and could go further down to Nátthaga and Nátthagakrika.
Where did the eruption happen?
Iceland’s 2021 eruption occurred in the Fagradalsfjall area of the Reykjanes Peninsula, just 30km from the center of the Icelandic capital Reykjavík. The Reykjanes Peninsula has been around 800 years without having any volcanic eruptions.
Are there collateral damages because of the eruption?
According to information provided by Kristín Jónsdóttir, director of nature conservation at the Icelandic Meteorological Office, and by Björn Oddsson, geophysicist from Almannavörn; it is the most suitable place for an eruption to start on the Reykjanes Peninsula. The lava flow is below 100 cubic meters per second and has very little explosive activity, therefore, no infrastructure is in danger according to current information.
According to current forecasts from the Met Office, gas and ash can be expected to reach the capital area on the night of Saturday March 20 or the eve of Sunday March 21. However, it is good that so far this eruption is accompanied by very little ash. Efforts are being made to make initial measurements of the initial values of the gas extraction area, and in particular of sulfur dioxide (SO2), but their results are not available.
Photo from RUV.is & the MET Icelandic Office
Has the international airport closed because of the eruption?
Not now. It is not forbidden to fly into Keflavík International Airport in the next few hours. The Meteorological Office has prepared an ash forecast based on the information available, and in accordance with the new rules of the Federation of International Civil Aviation, each airline decides individually whether to fly under the conditions it dictates.
Was it needed to evacuate the population?
No evacuation was necessary due to the eruption, rescue teams say. The eruption came as a complete surprise to Icelandic scientists and geologists, as seismic activity had decreased significantly after a nearly continuous seismic cycle since February 24th 2021.
What will happen in the following hours?
Civil defense has asked the inhabitants of southeast Iceland to close the windows due to the risk of gas contamination. Páll Einarsson, professor of geophysics, says the eruption was not a surprise. He claims that the eruption is very small, the crack is short, and the eruptive activity is not intense. He does not rule out that the eruption may end tonight, but there is also the possibility that it will increase, stating that “this is so typical at the beginning of a small eruption.”
It is the first eruption on the Reykjanes Peninsula in 800 years. This could be the beginning of a period of eruptions.