Geldingadalir Volcano

near Fagradalsfjall

This volcanic eruption began on March 19, 2021 as a fissure eruption in Geldingadalir, south of Fagradalsfjall near Grindavik, Reykjanes Peninsula.

Fagradalsfjall volcano was "sleeping" for 6000 years. The last known volcanic activity on Reykjanes Peninsula is 800 years ago.

The eruption was preceded by a swarm of earthquakes beginning in December 2020 through March 2021.

Because of those earthquakes were thought to be triggered by dyke intrusions and magma movements under the peninsula it was a clear warning sign for an impending eruption.

The name "Fagradalsfjall" is a compound of the Icelandic words "fagur" (fair, beautiful), "dalur" (dale, valley) and "fjall" (fell, mountain).

"Geldingadalir" can be roughly translated as "invertile valley".

Source: Wikipedia
(Click here to read more)

First two photos from the distance

My first photos of the eruption are taken during a short (legal) walk at night from my 5-days Covid-19 quarantine location in Álftanes.

It's Tuesday, June 1st, 2021 about 01:15 a.m. (local icelandic time) and the straight line distance to the eruption site is 27 km.

After decreasing lava flow during the last days the intensity suddenly increased again since last night.

The eruption can be seen very clearly. Even the clouds are illuminated.

The volcano is behaving like a geysir: it is erupting approx. every ten minutes.

Currently the hiking paths will be changed by the authorities, because the closest viewpoint is about to be surrounded by lava. In that case rescue work would only be possible by helicopter and in good weather conditions. That's too risky.

Hopefully more photos will follow from Friday, June 4th, 2021 when I'm "free" to go there after my quarantine.

It remains exciting ...!


Geldingadalir / Fagradalsfjall eruption in the background of Bessastaðir (the icelandic president's residence)

Mount Keilir (378 m / visible hight above ground 199 m) on the left with volcano's glow on the right

Third photo from the distance

It's still Tuesday, June 1st, 2021 but now in the late evening at 11:15 p.m. just before sunset in Iceland.

Still in quarantine I wonder if I can see the eruption from my distant position even at the last direct sunlight of the day.

I go out for my next (legal) short walk along the beach and guess what happens... The eruption pops up right behind the mountains and can be seen very clearly again!

From my position the straight line distance to the eruption site is now about 25 km.

Eruption seen from Álftanes / Garðabær with Reykjanes Peninsula in horizontal sunlight

Finally there

Today's Friday, June 4th, 2021, 01:00 p.m. and I am free from quarantine! Short preparation and off we go towards Fagradalsfall.

At 03:00 p.m. I leave the car at the parking lot 10 min. from Grindavík. Best weather for a walk to the volcano: rain und fog!

After a 45 min. walk I arrive at the current viewpoint unfortunately in densest fog. You can hardly go to the "lava river" in the valley. But what now happens is unbelievable: suddenly the fog disappears, rain stops and the crater ist clearly visible!

The whole valley is full of boiling lava under a thin grey surface with glowing cracks and the air is tremendously hot. The lava is slowly but unstoppable pouring down the valley. Every ten minutes you hear the crater deeply rumbling and blow out a fountain!

Please enjoy my first pictures from the eruption site... (more pictures will follow)

Hiking trail to the eruption site

Almost half way to the volcano / Nátthagikriki

Geldingadalir / Fagradalsfjall

Currently the eruptions appear approx. every 10 minutes and last about 2-3 minutes

Suddenly the lava surface in Geldingadalir lifts about one meter and changes into a lighter grey...

A kind of lava flood wave begins to flow towards the transition to Nátthagi valley...

...but stops just before crossing the saddle

Lava pours into Nátthagi valley forming various shapes and streams

The air near the lava stream is tremendously hot

That close to the lava you can only stay for about 60 seconds

Slow moving lava stream

Fast moving lava stream

Slow moving lava stream pouring down to Nátthagi valley

Björgunarsveit (Rescue Team) above Nátthagi valley

A little closer

Monday, June 7th, 2021, 11:30 a.m.

The lava output was clearly increasing the last days. Geologists consider it as possible, that the eruption could last for years - we will see.

Meanwhile, lava flows down the two valleys towards the coast. The scenery changes every day. Before I arrived first time at the site you could get very close to the crater on a hill. You can see that hill right in front of the crater in my last pictures.

That hill is now completely surrounded by lava and there is only one chance left to get there...

...by HELICOPTER!!!

So I signed up for a place on the waiting list at Norðurflug Helicopter Company and was actually lucky to get one!

Please see the results from this tour...

Nátthagi valley

Former visitor hill enclosed by lava (with Geldingadalir to the left and Meradalir to the right)

Geldingadalir / Fagradalsfjall seen from top of former visitor hill

View to the west - Geldingadalir with Fagradalsfjall to the left behind the crater

View to the east - Meradalir to the left with transition to Nátthagi valley to the right

Small inactive craters to the left of the large active one in the middle

Volcano's name

In the beginning the event was called the "Fagradalsfjall Eruption".

Over the past few days the term "Geldingadalir volcano" has been used more and more.

In fact Fagradalsfjall is the mountain to the west of the crater. The crater itself is located in the Geldingadalir.

Yet the new volcano does not have a final official name. (June 11th, 2021)

Sjáumst fljótt! (See you soon!) - Photo taken at night about 10 km north of Reykjavík near Grundarhverfi / distance to the volcano approx. 45 km

How will it continue...?

July 2021 - Currently volcano's behaviour varies day by day. Sometimes the fountain eruptions change to a continuous lava flow, sometimes lava stops completely and appears again the next day. It poors into Meradalir and down to Nátthagi valley but did not reach the coast yet. Due to volcanologists a prediction of volcano's behaviour is currently not possible. All in all, it currently looks like activity is weakening.

But one thing is for sure now:

Officially confirmed by the authorities the lavafield's name is now...

FAGRADALSHRAUN

That means "beautiful valley lava". This name was chosen by government from 340 proposals coming from Iceland's population.

That's it for now - We hope to be there again in early 2022 to see what's up at the eruption site.

Update

Thursday, December 2nd, 2021.

Today the national police commissioner together with the Suðurnes police chief declared the end of the "uncertainty phase" for the Reykjanes Peninsula.

The end of the uncertainty phase is not to be equated with the official end of the eruption.

An icelandic rule states, that an eruption is only considered to have ended if no pouring lava has been detectable for three months.

Fagradalsfjall eruption began on March 19, 2021 and pouring lava was last to be observed on September 17th.

For this reason, the official end of the eruption will probably be declared shortly before christmas 2021 if nothing changes by then.

Update II

Thursday, December 18, 2021.

The Icelandic Met Office has declared the Fagradalsfjall eruption as over.


Update III

Wednesday, December 22, 2021.

Four days after declaring the eruption as over, seismic activities are suddenly increasing again.

As concequence of this "behavoir" the aviation code for the Reykjanes Peninsula has been switched to orange again.

The characteristics of the new earthquakes are similar to those in the weeks before the first eruption in March 2021.

This does not mean, that the eruption is certain to continue, but the chances do increase again.

Here we are again!

Friday, February 18, 2022.

While approaching Iceland by plane today we have a clear view over the Reykjanes Peninsula. The spread of lava can be clearly seen in the snowy landscape.

Due to orange and red weather alert on Monday 21st and Tuesday 22nd we can not manage to walk again to the eruption site.

While being diverted via Grindavik on our way from the south towards Reykjavik (Hellisheiði is closed) we pass the completely empty parking lot in Geldingadalir. Thank goodness apparently nobody is stupid enough to walk to the eruption area in these extreme weather conditions.

View over Fagradalsfjall eruption site at Reykjanes Peninsula

From left to right: Nátthagi valley, Geldingadalir, Fagradalsfjall, Meradalir

Empty parking lot at Geldingadalir

Lögreglan (Police) monitoring closed roads near Þorlákshöfn

BREAKING NEWS!

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2022.

Fagradalsfjall is active again! Anounced by strong earthquakes, ground deformations and moss fires, magma has now reached the surface in Meradalir.

Currently it is 100-150 m long and located in the western part of Meradalir. The fissure produces a lava curtain with fountains several tens of meters high. A relatively huge amount of lava begins to flow down the valley.

Though authorities are currently recommending not to walk to the new eruption site, a few hikers are already there to watch the event. Volcanic gas emissions are very high and unpredictable at this early stage. If you go to the eruption site anyway, it is important to be aware of the wind direction and not to get too close.

We will try to get there from August 20th. Hopefully our plan will work...

OVERVIEW

Saturday, August 20, 2022.

While we are still on our way from northern Iceland to the south-west in our Jeep (please see MUNICH-ICELAND), our daughter fortunately manages to takes a picture of the eruption site while she approaches Iceland by plane.

The overview shows Geldingadalir with the white colored 2021 crater to the left and Meradalir with the smoke of the new crater near the picture's center.

You can also see the spread of lava in Nátthagi valley and it's remaining distance to the cost line.

In the background to the right Mount Keilir, Straumsvík Aluminium Smelter near Hafnarfjörður and even Reykjavík with the Hallgrímskirkja clearly appear.

And if you look really closely, you can even spot Bessastaðir (Residence of the Icelandic president) in the background's center.

Eruption site with Mount Keilir, Straumsvík and Reykjavík in the background to the right

Update

Monday, August 22, 2022.

Just in time at our first chance to get to the new eruption site, the volcano has decided to rest.

The last activities could be seen yesterday. Only the edge of the crater glowed a little during the night.

Currently nobody can predict whether the eruption is just resting or has ended.

In any case, significant seismic activity is still measurable. So there is still the chance, that it will continue in the near future.

We will see...!


Update II

Tuesday, August 30, 2022.

Today the second Fagradalsfjall eruption is officially declared as over.