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Fagradalsfjall, Iceland

Monday, June 12, 2023 - 8:15am by Lolo
40 miles and 0.2 hours from our last stop


FagradalsfjallFagradalsfjallIceland is still a very volcanically active place, so this morning we set off to explore the site of its most recent eruption - the Fagradalsfjall volcano, which erupted in 2021 and again in August of 2022, just 10 months ago.

We kidded that hopefully it wouldn’t choose today to erupt again. Perhaps we were prescient, because 4 weeks after we returned from Iceland, Fagradalsfjall erupted again, and it is still erupting now as I write this.

The latest eruption is close to the Fagradalsfjall volcano, but a little further north. This time, the lava is flowing from fissures in the ground between the peaks of Litli-Hrútur and Keilir. This is where scientists predicted the next one would occur.

FagradalsfjallFagradalsfjallFortunately, the volcano is in an uninhabited area of the Reykjanes peninsula, so there was no loss of life or damage to homes or infrastructure.

In Iceland volcanic eruptions are kind of a spectator sport, drawing thousands of people whenever one occurs, especially when it’s near Reykjavik, as this one was.

There is even the term: “tourist eruption,” which Icelanders use to describe a minor eruption that can be easily accessed. While my first reaction would be to get as far away from one as possible, Icelanders flee to it to watch the spectacular show nature is putting on.

FagradalsfjallFagradalsfjallOf course, geologists and authorities are constantly monitoring the safety of various areas and closing off those that are not safe.

So although we didn’t get to see red hot magma plumes and molten rock the size of cars shooting into the sky during our visit, we did get to see some pretty cool pitch-black lava flows, formed when the lava boiled up through the vents in the earth and poured down into the valley below, like a thick syrup. The lava flow from the 2022 eruption was massive.

PāhoehoePāhoehoeThe shiny blackness of the lava flow shows that it was from a recent eruption (in this case, it was about 10 months old). As time passes it will turn to a battleship gray and even a dull yellow-brown.

Signs warned us to stay off the lava as some of it is still hot. So, it didn’t even get time to cool off completely before the next eruption delivered some more.

The type of lava here is Pāhoehoe, a basaltic lava that has a smooth, undulating, or ropy surface. The ropy surfaces form as very fluid lava moves downstream dragging the cooling, congealing surface crust along with it.

The colors and textures are beautiful.

Fire and IceFire and IceSince this volcano is only 25 minutes from Reykjavik, it became a "hot" attraction and crowds gathered to see it erupting. It must have been quite a sight, probably similar to what people are observing today.

I always thought

Iceland is often called the land of Fire and Ice, so we decided to take it literally.

With much sadness, we emptied our camper freezer and left our remaining glacial ice, plucked by my and Paul's own hands from the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, to spend its remaining days (or more correctly minutes) melting on volcanic rock recently spewed from a volcano.

It served us well during cocktail hour and will be missed.

Now back to Grindavik to do some packing.

Fagradalsfjall location map in "high definition"

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