Have you ever dreamed of seeing a volcano erupting in real life? If so, you might want to book a flight to Iceland, where a spectacular volcanic eruption has been going on for more than nine months.
The volcano, named Fagradalsfjall, is located on the Reykjanes peninsula, about 32 kilometers southwest of Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland. It erupted for the first time in over 6,000 years in March 2023, after a series of earthquakes and tremors that began in October 2023.
The eruption produced a fissure of about 500-700 meters long, spewing lava and gas into the air. The lava flow was slow and the gas emissions were low, making the eruption relatively harmless and safe to watch from a distance.
Thousands of curious visitors and tourists flocked to the site to witness the spectacle of nature, which was visible even at night, thanks to the glowing red lava. Some of them even got close enough to roast marshmallows or take selfies with the volcano.
But what caused this rare and amazing phenomenon? And what does it mean for the future of Iceland and the world? In this article, we will explore the science, the history, and the stories behind the Fagradalsfjall volcano eruption.
The Science of Fagradalsfjall
Fagradalsfjall is one of the many volcanoes that dot the landscape of Iceland, a country that sits on the boundary of two tectonic plates: the North American and the Eurasian plates. These plates are slowly moving apart, creating cracks and fissures in the earth’s crust, where magma can rise to the surface and erupt.
The magma that feeds Fagradalsfjall comes from a deep reservoir about 15-20 kilometers below the surface, which has been accumulating for thousands of years. The magma is rich in iron and magnesium, giving it a dark color and a low viscosity, meaning it flows easily and forms smooth, rope-like shapes called pahoehoe.
The eruption of Fagradalsfjall is classified as a “minor” or “effusive” eruption, meaning it produces a steady stream of lava and gas, rather than explosive bursts of ash and rocks. The lava flow is slow, about 0.5-1 meter per second, and the gas emissions are low, mainly consisting of water vapor, carbon dioxide, and sulfur dioxide.
The eruption is also considered “monogenetic”, meaning it occurs only once at a given location, and then the magma source is exhausted. This is different from “polygenetic” eruptions, which occur repeatedly at the same location, such as Mount Etna in Italy or Kilauea in Hawaii.
The eruption of Fagradalsfjall is expected to last for a few months or years, depending on the amount and the pressure of the magma in the reservoir. The lava output and the seismic activity have decreased since the start of the eruption, but they could increase again at any time.
The History of Fagradalsfjall
Fagradalsfjall is part of a volcanic system called Krýsuvík-Trölladyngja, which extends for about 50 kilometers along the Reykjanes peninsula. The system consists of several volcanic cones, craters, and fissures, some of which have erupted in the past.
The last eruption in the system occurred about 800 years ago, in the 13th century, and lasted for about 200 years. The eruption produced a large lava field called Trölladyngja, which covers an area of about 80 square kilometers and has a volume of about 1.3 cubic kilometers.
The name Fagradalsfjall means “beautiful valley mountain” in Icelandic, and it refers to a valley that lies between two hills on the eastern side of the volcano. The valley was once a fertile farmland, but it was abandoned after the 13th-century eruption, and now it is covered by moss and grass.
The name of the valley also inspired the name of a popular Icelandic rock band, Kaleo, which released a song called “Fagradalsfjall” in 2021, shortly before the eruption. The song is a tribute to the beauty and the power of nature, and it features lyrics in both Icelandic and English.
The Stories of Fagradalsfjall Volcano Eruption
The eruption of Fagradalsfjall has attracted thousands of visitors and tourists, who have come to see the spectacle of nature with their own eyes. Some of them have shared their stories and experiences on social media, blogs, and news outlets.
One of them is Björn Steinbekk, a drone photographer and videographer, who has captured stunning footage of the eruption, flying his drone over the lava and the gas. He has posted his videos on YouTube and Instagram, where they have received millions of views and likes.
Another one is Þorvaldur Þórðarson, a professor of volcanology at the University of Iceland, who has been studying the eruption since the beginning. He has been measuring the lava flow, the gas emissions, and the seismic activity, and he has also been giving interviews and lectures to the public and the media.
A third one is Vala Hafstað, a journalist and a writer, who has been visiting the eruption site regularly and writing about it on her blog. She has described the eruption as a “magical” and “spiritual” experience, and she has also shared stories and legends about the volcano and the region.
These are just some of the many stories that the eruption of Fagradalsfjall has inspired. The eruption has also sparked interest and curiosity among people around the world, who have been following the eruption online or planning to visit it in person.
The Future of Fagradalsfjall
The eruption of Fagradalsfjall is not only a fascinating phenomenon but also a significant event for the future of Iceland and the world. The eruption has several implications and predictions, such as:
- The eruption could lead to more eruptions in the region, as the magma pressure and the tectonic movements could trigger other fissures and volcanoes to erupt. This could create new landscapes and geological features but also pose new risks and challenges for the people and the infrastructure.
- The eruption could affect the climate and the environment, as the lava and the gas could alter the temperature, the humidity, and the chemistry of the air and the soil. This could have positive or negative effects on the flora and fauna, the agriculture and the fisheries, and the health and quality of life of the people.
- The eruption could boost the economy and tourism of Iceland, as the eruption could attract more visitors and tourists, who would spend money on travel, accommodation, and entertainment. This could help the recovery of the country from the COVID-19 pandemic, which had a severe impact on the tourism sector.
- The eruption could inspire more research and education on volcanoes, as the eruption could provide valuable data and insights for scientists, students, and teachers. This could increase the knowledge and understanding of volcanoes, and also foster more interest and enthusiasm for science and nature.
The eruption of Fagradalsfjall is a rare and amazing event that has captivated the attention and the imagination of many people. It is also a reminder of the beauty and the power of nature, and the importance of respecting and protecting it.
In this article, we have explored the science, the history, and the stories behind the Fagradalsfjall volcano eruption, which has been going on for more than nine months in Iceland. We have also discussed the implications and predictions for the future of the volcano, the environment, and the people.
The eruption of Fagradalsfjall is a unique and spectacular phenomenon that offers a lot of opportunities and challenges for Iceland and the world. It is also a source of wonder and inspiration for anyone who loves nature and adventure.
What do you think of the Fagradalsfjall volcano eruption? Have you seen it or do you plan to see it? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below.