Eruption at Reykjanes

The long-awaited eruption has started, and has been confirmed by IMO. Just after 9pm the first light became visible on the cameras. At 21:40 official confirmation came. IMO has decided that the eruption began at 20:45. The location is not entirely clear yet, but the most recent earthquakes would indicate it is pretty much where expected, just south of the peak of Fagradalsfjall. There was no seismic signal, but in hindsight the near-surface M3.1 this afternoon was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
This solves the question whether this event was tectonic or magmatic. This is the first eruption in Reykjanes since about 1200 AD, and is likely the start of a longer period (centuries) of new activity on the peninsula. The current eruption may or may not last long. We do not know very much about how volcanics on the peninsula works. But eruptions here are likely to produce of order 0.1 km3 of lava, enough perhaps to reach the ocean and cause inconvenience, but not do major damage.

The fact that there were no earthquakes announcing the eruption suggests that the magma was already very close to the surface. A filled conduit is silent. The earthquakes come from breaking the conduit open, and tremor from filling it up. There was almost no tremor either (a15-min low frequency burst before the eruption was reported, only noted in hindsight), so magma may already have been ready since a few days. It was just waiting for the weekend.

The red glow suggests fountaining but we are waiting for further reports. We will add news here as it appears. We actually rely mostly on you!

And as a final point, when we announced the 1-year postponement of the eruption last year (April 1), we had no idea how close we were to reality.

A direct view of the rift is from the following webcam. It was at first pointing in the wrong direction but not has a great view of the eruption

Another suitable webcam is
Also see

Road cameras are at

Image provided to us by Judge Matthews and reproduced by permission

The eruption is confirmed to be in the Geldingaladir. A 500-meter fissure is reported with 4-6 small fountains. In this location the lava will be confined and does not appear to endanger infrastructure. It is a perfect small eruption. The valley is enclosed, and if the the eruption lasts long enough to fill up the valley (less likely) it would flow into another valley and go north away from any people. (It seems more likely that the eruption will stop well before but may erupt in a new location.) For a detailed map, we recommend

Keep posted! And keep posting.

558 thoughts on “Eruption at Reykjanes

  1. Quakes since yesterday. Notable: 1. Rate is now down to one or two quakes per hour. 2. the very shallow quakes from the orange group ended with the eruption time yesterday.

  2. Can this go on for weeks.? Then it will make a new stratos volcano

    • This eruption could go for months or years but it probably won’t make a new stratovolcano but it could make a small shield if I am not mistaken.

    • No one knows how long this will continue. It could end in days, or continue for weeks. But even if it ends, there may be outbreaks lates elsewhere along the dike. We have no real experience with Reykjanes eruptions so we don’t know the pattern.

  3. Long time lurker here, first post. It has been very interesting to follow the developments over the last few weeks, especially from the UK where we don’t do earthquakes and volcanoes, far too noisy. Having seen the first pictures of the glow in the sky last night through to this morning’s live feed (now my desktop background) it has been wonderful to see the lava’s advance across the valley.
    I watched again from about 17:00 UTC through to about 18:30 and noticed at least 20 people at the site. Do we know if they were geologists/volcanologists, or just enthusiastic hill-walkers? Quite a few were on the hill under the main cone and looked horribly close to the splashes. I know zoomed-in video shortens the perceived depth, but I still would not be stood there surrounded by rivers of molten rock.
    In Britain, they would definitely be wearing wellies and t-shirts, which is another reason why we have banned volcanoes, for the protection of the common man from his own stupidity

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  5. The lava flow is one massive Aa clump soon.. they say this magma been sitting a while undeground. Explains its odd behaviour.. But just near the vents it looks very fluid indeed .. But there is Some texture on it .. and its not completely smooth and shiney the channels in vent

  6. I recorded a few hours of video from the RUV webcam at 1 frame per second. The resulting time-lapse shows the advance of the lava quite nicely. Unfortunately I can’t get the video to render. I will try again later.

    When (if) I am successful, how do I post it on here?

  7. I think there was just an explosion and the smoke now looks green. I was a little distracted at the time and someone was just walking in front of the camera too.

  8. What height does this cone have compared to the surroundings?

      • It certainly was earlier. But it has been in the same place for a long time. I would love to see a close-up of the area.

    • That’s the possible new vent we’ve been keeping an eye on all afternoon – its been coming and going but this looks more promising this time!

      • that’s what i thougth… and i did remember that You had commented on it earlier… i’m not taking credit for it 🙂

        • Didnt mean that at all, sorry if you thought I was having a go! I wasnt the first to mention it anyhow! Im a longtime lurker and know youre an old regular with great knowledge.

          • Nono… no offense! i know how exciting it is to spot a new vent… i was just hoping it was one… i will sign up for the old part but we are all hear to learn and each volcano is rather unique. Best! i’ll move over and have some popcorn!

    • Have just watched a report on the uk bbc news and it had a short bit of footage from a helicopter fly over. It showed the thing on the left from a different angle and it very much looks like an extension of the fissure. Importantly it Lined up with the line of main cones, was well elevated from the lava flows and had it’s own orange glow. It’s possible that something is burning, but short of it being a stash of a load of old car tyres that have been dumped, I have my doubts.

      • And another aspect of the angle from the helicopter, the ridge on which the onlookers were standing is actually much further away than it appears on the ruv camera. Effect of foreshortening. That’s a bit of a relief as those onlookers were in a much safer place than I assumed.

      • That would be very interesting. On the camera it does not look in line with the other vents but that it always hard to judge from a single view point. If the fissure indeed extends that far, it would raise the question why it did not break through the valley floor. Must be hard rock.

        • I agree, on the web it looks offset from the line of the main vents, but it may be the foreshortening at play again.

          The fly over however gave a better broader view of the fissure system, with the less active vents (those to the right on the main live cam) and the fissure crack behind the ridge that has fumes coming out of it providing context. If you extrapolate the line, you end up at that point of interest on the other side of the valley/flow. In fact, there may be two fissures on the left hand slope. Trying to find the footage on the web, the bbc web site sadly does not have the footage in the news report.

        • In regards to the valley floor, is it possible that the fissure is there having opened up after the flow from the cones had covered the area and is now additionally feeding the lave flow from below? I’d assume we would see some evidence of activity in the flow if so?

  9. There is definitely something ‘bubbling up’ in two places to the left of centre of the RUV camera. Is this the two places you were talking about Swebby?

    • On the very edge of shot? If so yes. Whatever it is, it’s not very active if it is a fissure. My understanding with fissures is that they can quickly focus on to a very small part, and those central three cones look to be that spot.

      • I was looking about half-way to the middle on the valley floor – they are, as you say, intermittent.

    • The fact there may be two I wonder if it is the two sides of a graben running across the valley floor?

    • ..or is it just lava bubbling over some obstruction in the flow?

  10. However long it lasts I hope it keeps going until tomorrow. I’m planning to hike and see it with my dog and seemingly half of Reykjavík.

    • Please take pictures and let us know how it was. There are a lot of envious people here…

  11. I see the main cone (the highest) has developed a side vent just to the left of the main vent. Meanwhile, as at midnight UK time, the left-most cone has had a pretty voluminous outpouring of lava that has flooded across the valley to the far left.
    Interesting watching!

    • Could actually be an indication the right-most main cone is becoming unstable and may collapse?

  12. 2 became 3…blue dots or fire flames like lights…volcanic gas flames?? there are places with spontaneous fires….

      • yap..some flashes i do recognize…anyhow a lot of folks….what if it starts to unzip more???

        • My personal opinion (no expert) is the main, highest cone is becoming unsustainable. The new vent on its left flank cannot help. Fortunately it is away from all the observers. I’m guessing it will slump before long.

        • Not good, would be my guess. Some of the blue flashes are very close to the lava fronts on what is left of the valley floor.

          • Probably torch/flash lights that people carry while trying to find their way back to their cars, as not to stumble over rocks. The new ones with LEDs are incredibly strong and often have blueish colour. Would that fit?

        • They counted more than 300 cars in the parking lots next to the hiking trails and from that they estimate there are around 1000 individuals wandering around in the dark.

  13. Earthquake activity may be reduced, but GPS is still showing inflation on a lot of stations …

  14. Looking at the blue lights they flicker, dim and get brighter, my phone doesn’t do that could it be silver gas jets?

    • If you look at the timelapse film linked to by Quinauberon above, you can tell it’s people with lights.

  15. I wonder what the valley is going to look like by day break!

  16. Currently casting ruv to the TV and listening to Pink Floyd live at Pompeii. Pretty special moment 😁

  17. Starting to look a little tired, IMO. Anyone else have an opinion?

  18. Main cone suffered a small collapse to the right (on video). Good thing the tourists appear to have moved away. I’m still waiting on the left flank…

  19. sorry Clive… missed Your comment… so we are sitting on the rim together.

    • 2:30 am ….. and sunrise is 7:30 ish… wonder when we will be able to see again.

    • And I was waiting for the left side to go!
      I have to go to bed now. Shame not to continue watching. Night all!

  20. anyone thing this might be over by morning?? Anyone? Anyone?

    • Well, Geldingadalir won’t nearly as ‘deep’ as it used to be. Partially filled up with lava…

      • Where then will they chase the young rams to corner them before the little snip.
        Some of the area were I live is partly agrarian. Around 40 years ago one of the schools (about 40 miles from San Francisco.) was teaching sheep husbandry. Bit controversial, they were using their teeth to do the job. I knew the teacher as I was installing computers.

  21. I think someone should have put a webcam at the top of Keilir looking down the axis of the dike, wouldnt be up close but any new eruption would be easily visible. If there is continued inflation it is almost certain new fissures will open if this one stays as it is, and those fissures could be a long way away from the current one, and in places that are more problematic. The area will look very different in a years time.

    If you look at Google Earth it actually looks like most eruptions at Krysuvik occur along fissures but with majority output being at a single vent, which forms a large cone and a lava channel at high eruption rate and strong fountaining, very much like at Krafla in 1984.

    This is just the beginning 🙂

    • maybe 300 years of beginnings? I think that several generations will pass before these eruptions stop.

      • That too, but I mean in the immediate future, within this decade. There will be many more eruptions along this dike, probably by the time it all ends the whole thing will have erupted at some point, and one of the eruptions is likely to be of a large size, maybe most of the overall volume.

        I did read something that in this area only about 10-15% of the magma erupts, so each eruption/rift involves several km3 of magma. At the current supply rate that will take at least a few years to happen, so there is going to be a lot more action in that time especially when the dike reaches its maximum capacity and the magma has nowhere else to go but to erupt. When that happens eruptions will become frequent and of much larger scale.

        This also applies at present only at this dike, the same process will happen all over again when Brennisteinsfjoll ruptures its part of the fault, likewise at Reykjanes/Svartsengi. All of those could be much further out though, decades or centuries in the future.

  22. Some of the comments on the live feed say that a number of people were archeologists documenting old grave sites before the lava covered them. That before WWII there were more villages in these small valleys.

  23. Watching Mila cams and on the thermal one there is a real hot area showing now to the right of the initial eruption area…. another vent opening to the South west direction?

  24. So this is what i am seing at the moment, 4 very active vents, 2 less active. There are also many smoking vents and cracks, but i didn’t include those into the graphics. The lenghts of the lava flows are based on what i see in the dark (0300 local time) so they may be +/- 20m.

    • That’s pretty close to my diagramatic representation I updated last night, based on the mermory in daylight of the webcam and vairous videos.

    • Btw, I don’t think the vents are in a line, I think it is more of an open V, with the point more towards the camera. I think the other three more active vents are at an oblique anble, so they are almost hidden.

    • No it is fog I think, I actually thought it stopped entirely but lava doesnt cool that fast so I went back and you can see the fog coming in, blocking out the light.

      I expect given all the signals that the eruption at this location has not changed at all, just obscured.

      • i thought the power went down….. i’ve lost a lot of power and i know what it looks like… sometimes i fades away esp with batteries… and it’s almost sunup… there should be more light in the shy… grey instead of black.

        • Batteries are often not very good with cold, their discharge rate is higher at greater temperature and if it is cold the power output is too low and it cant run the camera (and if it gets too high the batteries tend to self destruct…).

          I do agree with Bjarki though it will be fixed quickly, t

      • Unfortunatley not, I’m stuck here in the Faroes and being envious of our friends in Iceland 😛

        • How has the winter been in the Faroes…. i’m getting sick of cold and white here in Alaska… and today it was wet windy snowy and 20 F cold and i don’t think i ever felt colder this winter even when it went to 10 below. ??

          • It has been one of the best winters in living memory, pretty much all of january and large parts of february had snow on the ground(quite unusual), which meant it brigthened the darkest days quite a bit and also it was super calm weather.
            Normally this period of the year will be more likely to have nonstop storms with hurricane force winds for weeks on end, something which can sap your energy fast.
            At the moment it is a nice and balmy early spring, some wind and rain. However when it comes to the weather nothing is certain, heavy snows in late april/mid may are not unheard of, and the weather forcast two days ahead is considered bad science fiction from the bottom shelf.

        • I enjoyed my time in the Faroes, even though I didn’t see the eclipse as planned. Met some nice people and some interesting times. I even managed to practice my Norwegian a little.

  25. Anyone knowing the viscosity of this lava?
    Kind of look like Holuhraun .. smooth near the vent channels But quickly turning into Aa lava when it leaves the channels

    Not as hot as Holuhraun… But perhaps similar ratio crystal content?

  26. Camera is back up, it’s however extremely low visibility, fog and rain on the lens. Only the occasional source of light getting through.

  27. Hurray can see a little bit on the webcam now – was amazed that the mist / rain was so dense to hide the glow

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