There have been some fabulous views of the volcano. And some less excellent ones. Where has it gone? Where is it going?

Who doesn’t dream of escape? Perhaps you have a mind-numbing job, a repressive social environment, or a damp and cold house. It may be an escape in (and from) a computer game, trying to reach the exit while being chased by your real-time friends becoming virtual enemies. Sometimes we need to escape from a dream, an unrealistic and damaging expectation of life. We may look forward to a better future, while forgetting that our life is the here and now. Terry Pratchett wrote about it in a children’s book, Only you can save mankind. It is about games and dreams as escapism from real life. The children have only vaguely fleshed-out personalities: they are forgotten by a world that is dealing with more important things. They come to life only in their video games, and it provides their ultimate escape.

Volcanoes too go for escape. The purpose of lava is to recreate the land: it should not be locked up inside a crater. The local people see things different, of course: it is a damaging inconvenience to have your property being claimed by lava, just for the purpose of recreation. And us, volcano watchers, are in two minds. Like Jonny in the book, we see both the game of lava and the events in the real world. It excites and frightens in equal measure.


The Geldingadalir eruption was exceptionally well placed for the purpose of isolation from the real world. The cone erupted on the side of an elevated plateau, Fagradalsfjall, in an area where a number of valleys had been eroded into the ancient lava shield. The valleys vary in depth, but have in common that they lack a direct outlet. Geldingadalir consisted (note the past tense) of two valleys with a small ridge in between. The volcano first erupted on this ridge. It was presumably a pressure ridge as it was located on – but perpendicular to – the Reykjanes fault. The lava flows remained confined to these two valleys. But they were also within walking distance of the main road. You can’t get more tourist friendly than that. In this perfect lava video game, there was to be no escape for the lava, and civilization was saved.

After a while the eruption upped its sticks and moved to higher ground next to Geldingadalir, from where it eradicated the original valleys and began to fill two others: Meradalir and Natthagi. Natthagi is a deep lying valley reaching for the coast, with an outlet only a little higher than the bottom of the valley. Escape from here seemed inevitable, but it was stopped by a combination of Icelandic engineering (the wall – from now on an essential part of any Simcity game) and volcanic temper (it stopped erupting in this direction). This saved – for now – the coastal road, a historic farm, and the newly build wall. The flows continued into Meradalir, a deep double valley separated from the lowlands beyond by a ridge. The steep ridge comes from an ancient eruption underneath the ice of the ice age – we think 35,000 years ago, based on the movement along the fault. This ridge became a useful location to put viewing cameras. The lava slowly filled up the valleys but it had a long way to go. The confinement remained.

But if the eruption continues, it is inevitable there will be an escape attempt. There are some places in Meradalir where the natural barrier is potentially overtoppable. At the moment the lava no longer seems to reach these places, because of a somewhat lower eruption rate and perhaps because of increased viscosity of the flows – they don’t look as runny as before. In the last week some of the flows have been notably sluggish. But at other times it is flowing like there is no tomorrow.

Assuming the eruption continues, where would an escape be most likely to happen? Where should we send the engineers to game a solution? Where are the danger points? And which property is ok for building a hotel?

To flow where none have flowed before

Let’s first look at the current extent of the flow. The image below is a preview of a Skysat (Planetlab) image obtained August 14, during a period of clear weather. (This probably counts as an extreme weather event in Iceland.) The image itself is high resolution (0.7 m/pixel) but is commercial and requires a hefty payment – after all, these satellites are not free to build, launch or operate. The preview shown here is of much lower resolution, but it gives a good indication of the most recent size of the lava field.

Preview Skysat image Aug 14, from Planetlab

In this image, some of the hills look dark enough to be confused with lava, because of the shadow. The sun was fairly low in the southeast when this image was taken. In Natthagi, the dark and smooth-grey is lava, and the stripy lighter grey is the shadow of the ridge on the right.

For a while lava flowed into Natthagi. The lava came close to the exit from this valley but had not quite reached it when the volcano changed direction. Over the past weeks, the eruption has left Natthagi alone and the lava has instead gone east, into Meradalir. Not all the lava went down: a fair amount remained close to the cone and build up an embankment and a shield. The embankment contains the main outflow channel. The new parasitic vent is growing on the side of this embankment. To the east of the cone the lava shield has been rapidly rising. This rise has already eradicated one hill, which first turned into an escarpment with the lava lapping against the ridge, and then was swamped by overtopping lava. The transmitter which had been mounted on this hill became the subject of a rescue attempt, not entirely successful. The rest of the lava has been flowing into Meradalir, first into the western valley and later extending into the eastern one.

The best map of the lava field is from, dated to 27 July. (The flow has thickened since but expansion has been very limited.) To the east and north of the lava flow (the ‘hraun’) is the old shield of Fagradalsfjall (which we estimate at 100,000 years old, dating from the previous interglacial). (Note that our ages come from assumptions on what lines up with what across the Reykjanes fault, and should be taken with caution and not as scientific fact.) This fjall acts as a block. Various other ridges contain the flow but these have some gaps. I have indicated the potential routes where the lava may flow through the gaps and perhaps escape. The coast lies waiting.

The current flows are down the slope into Meradalir. Natthagi is not being resupplied. The picture below is a screenshot from one of the many drone views. It shows how well developed the cone has become. The route to Natthagi would start at the back, to the south, were the cone is highest and best protected. There is no sign that a collapse here is likely. The outflow is the weak part of the cone, but any potential break here (perhaps related to the current parasite vent) will still feed towards Meradalir. A reinstatement of the Natthagi supply route can not be excluded, but it does not appear likely or imminent.

The cone and outflow. This is from before the rapid growth of the parasite vent

There have been some excellent views of the lava flows recently – as well as some very foggy days. Below is a combination of daytime view of the field on Aug 15, and a night-time view of the lava flows. The hot flows are white. Mostly it follows the northern edge of Meradalir, fed by the embanked lava river coming off the cone. This flow first runs southeast and turns northeast where it enters the slope down to Meradalir. This turn is a memory of the transmitter hill which blocked this direction before being overtopped. There is now also a flow going south and turning southeast. Finally, there has been a small flow going northwest, visible on some satellite images, but no other indications that we are missing lava.

Aug 15: day time image of the lava field, combined with a night time image of the fresh flows. Click on image for full resolution

The way out

Let’s go through the possible escape routes via Meradalir. For an overview of Meradalir, this Gutntog drone video covers it well and it is worth watching.

The north

Starting along the northern edge, lava has entered a small canyon between two ridges. The lobe is just outside of the cameras: the Meradalanuknur_SV camera is on the adjacent ridge but on the wrong side. The following image is taken from the drone video, showing this lobe – and lava flowing past it.

Drone screenshot from Gutntog, Meradalir, northern edge

Overlay of July-27 map (brown/green) with the Aug-14 image (black for lava)

contours and expansion route

The Jul 27 map shows that the lava had at this time reached the contour level at 140 meters. It has expanded further since dat date. This is evident in the overlay with the Skysat image of Aug 14: it is now approaching the 160 meters contour. The flow can expand further by about 1 kilometer if it reaches 170 meters. That is about the limit. The plateau beyond is at 200 meters: if it were to reach that height here, there would be serious outflows elsewhere. We can expect significant expansion of this lobe but not an escape.

North by northeast

A bit further east is a second lobe going north to northeast. It is running into a steep upward slope, requiring 60 meters of ascent, indicated by the arrow. This flow did not expand in the period 27 July to 14 August. The Skysat map and the July map overlap perfectly, following the 140 meter contour. However, a lava flow reached this area on Aug 15, when the flow expanded as indicated by the red hashed area. The area of the red arrow was out of sight of the camera. It may have expanded there as well. It seems plausible that the 150 meter contour had been reached here. However, the confining slope is too steep and high. This is not the way out.

Second lobe. The hashed area indicated expansion on August 15

The eastern valley – northeast

Next we come to the second valley of Meradalir. This is a fairly narrow basin running southwest to northeast. The lava has not expanded here between July 27 and Aug 14: the flows have not reached this second valley, possibly because the eruption rate reduced a bit in this phase. The current level is around the 130 meter contour. That is 45 meters above the original deepest point – in most of the valley the lava is currently some 35 meters thick, and in places more. (As an aside, at that thickness it will take a long time to cool down. Even after a month of down time, and a solid looking crust, most of the lava underneath may still be liquid. Don’t go there.)

Potential escape routes from Meradalir

This region has a number of potential escape routes which are coming into range.

Starting with the northeastern tip of the lava, there is a plateau further northeast at an elevation just over 150 meters, which is about 20 meters above the current level of the lava. This plateau is fairly wide and would give a large surface to expand into, of 500 by 500 meters, doubling the surface area of this second valley. Once it has covered this space, there is a path around the big hill to the east, where there is a shallow descent to the south. This escape route is slow, because of the wide area to be covered and because of the shallow slope.

The second valley – the routes south

There are three other escape routes from the valley, as indicated by the arrows. These are easier and more likely.

The clearest exit is in the middle of the valley. Here, the saddle in the confining ridge is less than 10 meters above the current lava surface. Crossing this saddle will bring the lava into a new valley running to the south-southeast, sloping down to the south. It is the lowest of the exits, but the saddle is narrow and this might restrict the outflow, at least for a while. However, it is the most likely path out.

The southern tip of the lava has two ways out. The lava here is at 125 meters elevation. To the southwest the saddle is 25 meters above the current lava; to the southeast the exit is some 20 meters above. These two exits have the advantage of being the shortest route to the coast and bringing a wider flow channel, but it is higher than the central way out.

Going out, may be some time

In conclusion, none of the three routes appear imminent because lava has not reached here for some time. Some outflow will happen here with a 5-10 meter rise in level, and a major outflow will occur if the level reaches 20 meters higher, to the 150 meter contour .This level has been reached in the western valley of Meradalir, but not yet in the eastern valley. If the lava flows reach this second valley again, the lava could reach this level quite quickly. The required volume is 1km by 0.5 km by 20 meters (the rough size of the eastern valley), or 0.01 km3. The eruption is producing that much in about 10 days. Of course only a fraction of the lava will reach far enough. Once it gets here again, a minor outflow may happen in a week and a major escape could occur in 2 months.

And that seems to be it: none of the available routes is likely in the near future. The nuclear option would be the flow being completely redirected away from Meradalir. However, a look at the contour maps shows that the old Geldingadalir and the valley-with-no-name (named Sydri-Meradalur on the map) are filled to between 210 and 230 meters, while the flow into Meradalir begins at 200 meters, which is considerably lower. Gravity favours Meradalir, and using the first law of physics (‘Einstein is always right’), gravity always wins. In Meradalir the flows should remain confined for the next month.

A by-pass?

Does this mean the coast is clear? Not quite. The recent re-arrangement of the volcanic cone has indicated another possibility. Over the past month the embanked lava channel has channeled the flows largely to the northern side of Meradalir. But the new vent, and holes on the side of the cone and embankment are now providing a route that runs along the southern edge of wide slope into Meradalir.

It is visible on the image at the beginning of this post. It is a shorter route into the eastern valley, although so far it hasn’t reached that. However, the region along this side where the 150 meter contour has been reached has expanded to the entrance point of the eastern valley.

A by-pass?

This opens a potential short cut. The new flow is coming down along the high hill where the contours drops from 200 meter to 150 meter. The hill ends at 180 meters. There is a passage at the 180 meter contour, in a place where the lava has already reached the 170 meters. It would not take much to enter this gap.

The arrows indicate the flow paths this could open up. It provides a shorter route into the eastern valley. It is not without problems: the gap is narrow, and may be higher or more restricted than apparent from the maps.

After the exit

An escape can therefore happen if the eruption continues as it is at the moment, perhaps by early Autumn. It brings the lava into a long, open-ended valley. It is still quite a distance from here to the coast. Progress may not be fast and the lava may get stuck if the flows are not voluminous enough, so that they solidify before getting to the exit. That would be the preferable outcome, of course, leaving both the virtual tourists and the locals happy, the former with some brilliant views, and the latter by keeping their property safe from recreation. Everyone wins in this game of life.

But if the flows heads for the coast here, it would be harder to stop it by building a wall. Simcity-Volcano has just become a lot more complicated.

Game over

Albert, August 2021

236 thoughts on “Escape

  1. With apologies to those who would like some non-Icelandic news. If we can find out more about the Japanese eruption we may have a post on that. But so far it is not obvious what we can add to what is already available on the various sites. There is one other guest post in the queue (non-Icelandic – thank Tallis) and we are always happy to receive more guest contributions!

    • No problem. My apologies. The criticism was never directed at those who made the posts but more on the comment section and it’s system as well as general coverage of it (unrelated to this website), but I explained it better in the comment sections of the previous post.

  2. All
    We might have had a very small instance of the Pahala tremor. This one is a little different since the quake that might be associated with it is a bit inland, and only 45.5 Km deep. The signal does appear on a lot of the webicorders, but not as well as the larger instances we have seen. Take a look.

    2021-08-17 01:19:01 1.8 26.7
    2021-08-17 00:45:34 2.1 34.5
    2021-08-17 00:07:52 2.2 34

    • It is hard to locate the tremor. It is seen on a number of seismographs. It is perhaps clearest on the western slope of Mauna Loa. Could it be weather related?

      • Albert
        It also shows on the north and east of Mauna Loa. When you get to Hilo or farther north, you only think you see it. It shows at MLOD, HSSD, PLAD, KUPD, STCD and NPOL. Like I said, way inland and very shallow, compared to what we are used to seeing.


  3. Is there any way to automatically get comments posted to you on a new post without first having to seed a comment?

  4. Great article, it covers all the spots I had been wondering about!
    Just a slight nitpick, there are three valleys in Meradalir; Syðri-Meradalur, Nyrðri-Meradalur, and Eystri-Meradalur, the last two being marked as Meradalir on the maps.
    The “Valley with no name” moniker stems from news outlets and tourists from the city not bothering with asking the locals if it had a name

    • In the abscence of a conversation with the locals during a pandemic and carbon footprint concerns I believe it was given a friendly staging name for brevity and colloquialism: ‘Mildly Moist Boggy Bit’ a.k.a MMBB.

      • I am not sure that name still applies .. and it wasn’t never really a valley so I didn’t include in the Meradalir valleys. It was more like the fell between Natthagi, Geldingadalir and Meradalir.

      • Boogah, I’m highly gratified that the MMBB is still remembered and used with affection. As a geographer, it pains me to see unnamed or multi-named geographical features, as it muddles meaning when trying to discuss such with precision.
        It also tickles my sense of humour as I included one of my favourite phrases which many people, for some strange reason, find shudderingly distasteful.

        (I have taken to calling it by its proper name, once that became clear. I certainly have no wish to incur the wrath of locals!)

  5. Anyone know what’s happening near Hengill / Hrómundartindur, theres been a number of swarms there other the past months including a 3.1 erathquake in the past couple of days, not sure if it’s volcanic or something related to geothermal power?

    If memory serves me correctly from my trip to Iceland 2 years ago there was a lot of geothermal pipes in that area.

  6. The volcano seemed to be ramping up to another episode, according to the tremor graph, when the YouTube video just quit on me! It acted like it had reached the end of a non-live video for some reason, and I can’t get it working again. Seeking doesn’t work, etc.

    How do I fix this? Hurry, there could be lava visible any minute now if the tremor graph is to be believed.

    And why am I constantly besieged by problems with bloody YouTube? I’ve got a bog-standard browser and OS. Nothing peculiar here that could be raising compatibility issues.

    • Try using this link to access them. Four of them appear to be not working this evening with only the one operating but it’s very foggy and obscured by raindrops on the camera. Usually there’s one or two not in action. This is a first.

      • It’s a shame because there seems to be some great fountaining going on from the little I can make out.

      • At the moment, one of mbl cam is not working. The YouTube stream is offline. (happens from time to time). When the restore the live stream the URL changes. When I notice that the live feed is up again I’ll fix this on my site. 😉


      That should get you to the close-up camera.

      Kinda foggy now, but a nice red glow to it 🙂

      (Yes, it is annoying that they stop it…..perhaps for bandwidth savings? Be nice if they put a link to the active address when the volcano is speaking to us.)

    • How much money do you have?

      With enough money you can hire someone in Iceland to setup multiple cameras with multiply redundant power and fibres/cell/sat to Internet. Heck bypass the Internet with that money and just get a direct satellite downlink to your home 🙂

      Problems happen on youtube live streams. It likely isn’t just you.

      • Now mate that camera station with a remote drone landing/recharging pad. The drone can do quick recon flights/simply do straight height overview shots.

        Or maybe convince the RAF to loan a few drone units…training opportunities, ya know!

        ( If I recall, I read something about a chap saying ‘Yeah, give me $15K and $2K a month each, and I’ll get you as many cameras as you’d like.’)

        Let’s go Cadillac!


  7. Another quick Mars update

    Ingenuity completed Flight 12, having a closer look at the South Seitah region Perseverance is heading towards. Initial navcam imagery seems to show Ingenuity landed on a small sand dune. There doesn’t seem to be any indication from JPL’s initial tweet that they are worried so hopefully neither at too much of an angle or feet buried deep in Martian sand!

    New sample should be collected by Percy for eventual Earth return at South Seitah. Last time they picked a rock they couldn’t figure out if it was sedimentary or volcanic. The rock answered by figuratively disappearing in a puff of smoke. Better luck this time! 🙂

  8. GeologyHub on YouTube has a video up on the recent Japanese eruption.

    • Thanks for sharing. This looks like a surfacing somma in the center of an old caldera.

      If that’s the case, it’s likely that the island of South Iwo-Jima (different from Iwo Jima itself) is a remnant of the pre-caldera edifice that did not collapse. Not too dissimilar from Krakatau or Rinjani / Samalas.

      Using the above photo, looks like a deformed and eroded ring exists around the now erupting summit.

      • That does look like a caldera with satellite volcanoes.

        Perhaps there was a larger island there in the distant past.

  9. Has Iceland imposed some kind of media blackout at the eruption site today? I can’t find any working live cams, either RUV or MBL. The only things quasi-working are the MBL Nátthagi one, where nothing is happening and which does not have a view of the eruption site proper, and the multicam feed, which doesn’t seem to be real time but periodically updating stills to judge by the fact that nothing is moving in any of the sub-panels.

    If there is a media blackout, those responsible are hereby directed to either justify such a media blackout to me, or else rescind it immediately. The eruption site is public, or is supposed to be, and was up until today without apparent issue. It’s too late to change your minds and invoke some kind of state secrets act or whatever. So unless a Russian spy drone crashed right on the site or something I don’t see how this blackout can be justified. And if one did, drag it away (lava will eat it otherwise anyway) and then lift the blackout. Regardless, I want to be able to see the damn eruption site again and I doubt I’m the only one!

    • live viewing restored at
      This is the long-distance, fog-afflicted one. The camera close to the eruption seems to have gone off-line yesterday, perhaps it will come back under a different youtube link.

      Natthagi is spectacular this morning, at least for weather buffs. The clouds are rolling in from the hill a bit (only a bit) like the CapeTown tablecloth cloud

      And tourist-watching is still available at

      The eruption is stalled at the moment. Smoke but no fire

    • When will you realize that it’s a difficult operation running those webcams out in the middle of nowhere in ever changing (but mostly harsh) weather? It’s not your right to demand streaming video in perfect quality served on a silver plate at your convenience 24/7. The service from the Icelandic news agencies has by far been much more than anyone should expect and I’m forever grateful for that. You should be too.

      There is no conspiracy. Not from the media, not from any government and not from youtube. To find the current streams, go to, or and find the streams there. They will be updated and by clicking in on their sites you will also generate some well deserved advertising revenue for those providing the service. Sometimes the service will be lost due to current conditions at the site. Tough luck. You just have to wait for it to be restored. Even getting their cameras lost to lava doesn’t seem to stop them from continuing to provide the service, so you just have to be a little bit patient.

      • I completely agree. Everytime a camera does not work 100% or the weather is bad Twisted One goes into complete Conspiracy mode and starts blaming random people. It’s getting really annoying.

      • I think the point has been made. The original comment in this case was made in jest, I believe. In any case we can take it as an indication how much the webcams are being appreciated. Which they are.

  10. What the hell is going on with the tremor? All three bands are steady between 3k and 4k, which to my knowledge has never happened before. It’s “supposed” to be ramping up to the next eruptive period but instead seems to have gotten hung up exactly halfway between lull and eruptive …

    • Might be intruding underground, making a new fissure system in line with the new vents yesterday.

      Maybe something like what happened at Pu’u O’o, where a few times fountains were suspended by flank eruptions, permanently so in 1986. Not as likely in exactly that manner here but recently we have been speculating on the volcano getting too tall and a flank eruption is a logical answer to that.

    • The only consistent pattern I’ve been able to see is that after a few days repeating the volcano changes to another pattern.
      Just like Homer Simpson’s spider-pig, the volcano does whatever the volcano does!

  11. People in the nearby villages surrounding Taal are reporting sulfuric odor, but the tremor has gone down in duration and numbers, it might mean that this batch of magma might be close to reaching the surface, another eruption seems probable

    • Very gassy there today.

      Today’s Taal bulletin (20 Aug 2021 over there in the Philippines:

      In the past 24-hour period, the Taal Volcano Network recorded sixty-four (64) volcanic earthquakes, including fifty (50) volcanic tremor events having durations of two (2) to twenty-four (24) minutes, fourteen (14) low-frequency volcanic earthquakes, and low-level background tremor that has persisted since 07 July 2021. Activity at the Main Crater was dominated by upwelling of hot volcanic fluids in its lake which generated plumes 1,500 meters tall that drifted southwest. Sulfur dioxide (SO2) emission averaged* 12,257 tonnes/day on 19 August 2021. In addition, vog was observed over Taal Volcano and vicinity. Reports of adverse effects on some residents of Talisay and Brgy. Barigon, Agoncillo have been received by DOST-PHIVOLCS; hazy conditions were also observed over Taal Lake and municipalities surrounding Taal Lake. Based on ground deformation parameters from electronic tilt, continuous GPS and InSAR monitoring, Taal Volcano Island has begun deflating in April 2021 while the Taal region continues to undergo very slow extension since 2020.

      NOTE: my attempt at formatting with html code may be unsuccessful. WordPress baffles me.

  12. Fog lifting(in a limited way) main vent glowing, second vent looks dormant -perhaps trying to begin all engines..


    Iceland Eruption temperatures of 1240 C been confirmed! For fagradalshraun thats as hot as Kilaūeas summit lava lakes! ( But Kilaūea is much much hotter at depth )

    Still fagradalshraun is erupting at local mar temperatures.

    Vatnajökull is also much hotter but Vatnajökull basalts cools alot on the way up as they are stored in Big magma chambers. Holuhraun began probaly as 1500 C when it was born in the Hotspot .. but it cooled to 1180 C in the way up and spent some time in storage undeground. Most Vatnajökull magmas erupt at barely over 1100 C

    Hottest Vatnajökull magmas was from Kistufell and erupted at 1280 C early holocene

    • I would think maybe Kistufell is something a lot like what we see now at Fagradalshraun, a deep source eruption. I know Carl has put it as a central volcano and closest to the hotspot of them all but it looks like just another hill on the Bardarbunga rift to me, theres a few such hils and shields in that area actually, and Kistufell is one of the smaller ones. I guess with the increased magma rate back then it could reach the surface at a higher temperature even going through all the plumbing.

    • At 1280 C it have still cooled from the a bit over 1500 C astenosphere temperatures. Iceland haves a 50 km
      Thick Igenous crust to go through at Vatnajökull. There is Probaly very little perhaps not litosphere at all there .. and most magmas gets trapped in passive rifting

      The huge gas emissions at Grimsvötn is Intresting now

  14. RUV Langihryggur camera seems to be working normally again. I don’t see any incandescent stuff. The tremor is climbing again, but not very fast.

    • Red glow in crater around 08:03. Tremor climb accelerating. I think it’s about to start the next episode, finally.

  15. Just saw lava gases up,- be interesting to see if the little new vent joins in.

    • Big flows now into Meradalir. Not much activity in the crater (and none in the new vent), so is is flowing through the usual channel. The flows came so fast that i was wondering whether a dike had been breached.

  16. And now I can’t get 720p or above on the Langihryggur cam all of a sudden. It will even say it’s on 720p while giving me a much lower res image, probably not even 480p. What gives?

    • Blanking it out again was NOT the correct response to my complaint!! Grr…

    • YouTube tries to deliver the best resolution the can, based on your internet connection.

      Right now I’m watching the fog in 10880p 😉

      • WOW, fog in 10880p how many K is that ? 😮 😀 :p

        All camera’s seem to be playing up today, freezing and giving low resolution, typical just as the eruption gets stronger again.

  17. It seems to be intermittent. When it is showing anything, it’s all blocky and the framerate is single-digit, even when the gear claims “720p60”. Never get this behavior with MBL streams, but MBL seems to have decided to pack everything up and disappear yesterday, without of course consulting any of us first …

  18. Morning all.
    I can see some lava boiling in the vent but it must either be draining out, or it’s a ‘lazy’ eruption right now.
    I wish the weather would clear. But, as Albert joked, a clear sunny day in Iceland could be classed as an extreme weather event!

    • And now we have steady run off into Geldingadalir. This feeds to Natthagi in due course.
      The ‘parasitic’ vent is silent.

      • I think we just have to be patient, Narlet took some time to erupt last time and then died off slower too, it is delayed from the main vent. Not sure why that is though but it seems to be it is narrower so lava cabt rise as easily perhaps, so takes longer and also keeps pressure a bit longer? That would mean perhaps Narlet is quite a deep structure though, much more than it looks.

        • I’d agree about Narlet. From the start I thought that was coming from close to the original conduit. It will be interesting to see if it comes to life this time!

  19. Albert, I just wanted to say that you’re such a phenomenal writer with the ability to tell consistently engaging stories. As a relatively new VC reader (discovered this site about four months ago while searching for information on the 79AD Vesuvius eruption), I’ve compulsively binged an astounding number of articles here recently, and yours really stay with me.

    The series on the Greenland Vikings, a post you did on the Holocene in relation to the previous Ice Age, and your Ghosts of Christmas Past article which is probably one of the most compelling things I’ve read in my life.

    Thank you for the time and effort you put into this. And thanks to all the VC contributors as this site has rather quickly become a place I come to daily with anticipation looking for the dopamine hit of the next posted article.

    I would really love to read another article going in depth on Tambora 1815. I know it was covered in the Hobby Horse article, but I was hoping there might be enough material to go more in depth on the science of this massive eruption and the sheer scale / size of it.

    Thanks Albert (and everyone who writes for this wonderful site).

    – Ryan

  20. I’m going to get savaged for this post, but about a month ago I must have observed at least 5mm3 of lava going into Geldingadalir. The amount that made in into Natthagi from there was almost nothing. My only conclusion from those observations was that at the moment the lowest spill point out of Geldingadalir is North of Ragnar into Meradalir.

    I believe if any lava at the moment is going to make it to Natthagi it’ll be via South Meradalir and over the dams. It is also more than likely to be a surface flow too so probably won’t travel much more than 2k from the cone and eventually stall in North Natthagi at best.

    • Clive 18/08/2021 at 11:41
      And now we have steady run off into Geldingadalir. This feeds to Natthagi in due course.
      The ‘parasitic’ vent is silent.

      Apologies my post should have been as a reply to Clives comment above.

      • Oh!
        Don’t worry, I won’t be doing any savaging. My dentist would be very cross with me. 🙂
        Happy to accept any postings that kick holes in mine. That’s what we’re hear for!

  21. Impressively erupting. The parasitic cone is very much dead though, and the holes in the side have healed. It is back to being overflow-driven

    • The extra cone must have taken early retirement. it could not take the pressure….

    • Self-healing volcano for sure!

      If I recall correctly, the holes are either at, or just to the right of that main overflow. That overflow is cutting rather deeply into the lip and more than likely the face as well. Perhaps that in itself could lead to either a collapse of the cone in that area, or maybe weaken the face enough to allow holes to present themselves again.

      Since the eruption stopped shortly after the holes presented themselves before, they didn’t have time to solidify themselves as a more “permanent” escape spot for the lava.

      One thing that may have aided the hole creation was the parasitic vent itself. I have to figure that the frequency of vibrations from the main vent wasn’t enough to create them, but with the parasitic vent running at the same time, the different frequencies/timing of the vibrations loosened the face enough to allow the production of the holes.

      Perhaps the pounding of the overflowing would be enough to recreate the needed differing frequencies, but that seems doubtful….we’d have seen the cone collapse many times over by now if that were the case.

      Your read on the parasitic vent, Albert…are you of the thought that it’s a done dead deal, or only for now? There’s always room for a surprise or two, of course – this entire episode since March has been an interesting exercise in watching everything doing whatever it wanted and whenever it so wished.

      • Predicting this eruption is very dangerous! I think the parasitic cone had a bit of a collapse last night (it seemed notably smaller) and this plugged the feeding hole at the bottom. I am convinced it fed from the main cone and overflow: the large waves in the main cone were at times replicated in this vent. It may re-open but it should hurry up otherwise it becomes more difficult. The weaknesses in the main cone are in the sutures where the growth from one episode end and the next one takes over. The two holes yesterday seemed to be at that level. Any collapse of the main cone is most likely fairly high up, at yesterday’s growth ring. An overflow does not have the same erosion effect as water would do, because the flow is laminar and because lava does not melt solid rock. There can some damage but a complete collapse from an overflow (as can happen in a dam) is less likely. The biggest weakness in the main cone is actually the parasitic vent. But let’s see.

        • Albert, I already got in trouble a couple of times (at least) for predicting the course of future eruptions. Great advice from you. I did notice that much smoke came from the back side of the cone before the lava really got roiling, and the vsmog was also coming off the overflow channel into Miradalir. I keep thinking that the smoke points us to the weak areas in the topmost 100 meters ground.

  22. Sharing something interesting I’ve observed. As some know, I’ve always been super-interested in the Japanese caldera systems, especially those in the south (the Kagoshima Graben calderas). So every once in a while, I try to catch up on any new research, news, and findings for those volcano systems.

    I was reading a somewhat recent paper ( that provides an overview of things, and I noticed that there is a relatively overt sign of a slab tear in the descending slab, which seems to be more prevalent in the south of the Kagoshima Graben, and not present as much in the north. If you scroll down to page 4 and look at the earthquake plot of the subducting slab, it should be relatively apparent that there is a big gap in the earthquakes around Kaimondake, but the more northern volcanoes of SakuraJima and Kirishima don’t share this feature.

    Speculatively, it looks like there is a small bit of a gap where Sakurajima is, but nothing at all where Kaimondake exists.

    This makes me wonder whether there is an ongoing slab tear there which began in the south, and is progressing more northward.

  23. Am I wrong or is there a healthy outflow shwashing over the crater’s edge towards the south? Might this flow reach Natthagi?

  24. Is there a flow visible on the Langihryggur camera coming from Southern Geldingadalir, through the gap south of Spectator Hill, into Southern Meradalir and spreading North and South?

  25. It could be my imagination, but I think the viscosity is less now (2021-08-18 21:00) than it was 8-10 hours ago.

  26. There is a glow at the still cam “western wall meradalir -> east” too.

    My impression is that some of the lava has been flowing in Geldingadalir past days (backwards around to cone) too.

    It makes sense. The area just before the outflow is becoming bit higher in time. Another way to go now.

  27. Theres earthquakes starting to appear at Kilauea again, not much yet but it is building. The tilt is also going on the previoys upward trend, that bigger drop I think is some magma escaping the conduit somewhere just not enough to make a dike, could be that swarm at Kilauea Iki had something to do with it.

    Maybe 3rd time lucky… 🙂

    • The recent discussion about ring dykes has been focused on where they’ve been noted in the past–south caldera over to Keanakakoi. Now with the recent EQs near Iki and south, maybe the east caldera boundary is awakening, too. There have been a lot of EQs near where the Ai-Laau vent/shield, Nahuku/Thurston lava tube is. I could imagine that this is where the semi-official caldera boundary is.

  28. I predict the fog will lift soon,saw a hand in front of cam….surely no body would travel to the sight just to show their hand to the cam..if I’m wrong about the weather just deal with it!

    • I think that kid waving his hand has been there for two or three weeks now. 😀

      Looking in this morning, the vent looks like a bomb has gone off in it. Very steamy, lots of rugged and broken lava-scape. The weather does not look very good for the day.

      It’s a shame the Theatre Hill cams are down at the moment. But I’m sure the camera teams will have them up and running soon. They put a lot of work into them for us all.
      If you’re reading this, camera teams – thank you!

      • Nothing wrong about kids showing interest in volcano science.

          • Not sure if everybody realized that this is borrowed from Kubrick’s ‘The Shining’ (1980). The two girls are the “Grady twins”. Just saying, because I don’t want volcano cafe visitors to think that I’m that creepy.

      • The first lava splatters showed up on the RUV Langihriggur camera at 15:43, 2021-08-19. That seems to be the only closeup camera that is working now. The Visir camera is intermittently showing delayed views.

          • I’m just amazed at how lava can show up at the top and be all the way at the bottom in just 30-40 minutes.

          • ….which is why that fool who climbed the cone weeks back was in the wrong place at the right time. He never would have made it these days.

          • Did he do it for the views, the adventure or to show off? The latter, I think. But it was pure stupidity in all cases.

          • Have no idea. If there was any follow-up to that escapade, I did not see it.

        • So satisfying seeing the lava fill the empty channel down towards Syðri Meradalir on the Langihryggur camera..

          • ..”well “it tried, and it tried, and it tried, and it tried,”….

  29. First orange is spattering is showing on langihryggur camera… 🙂

  30. The Icelandic volcano is now 5 months old today! Happy Birthday!

    • Nice video.

      It also shows that the lava from the main crater seems to have plugged the parasitic vent from the top. Looks like ‘papa’ didn’t like the competition from the little upstart and squashed it with a bit of lava down the throat…

      • I think this area is one to keep an eye on though. Might not be every epispde but these vents do tend to be semi persistent. Pu’u O’o formed many, and most were in the same places just west or east of the main vent. Etna also forms parasitic vents around its summit craters in consistent locations.

        If there is a deeper structure beneath Narlet then it is all the more likely it will persist, perhaps it is just building its own plumbing analogous to the early days of April with the original craters, with the rifting extending to theatre hill. Because the wall collapsed and lets lava from the main lake plug it there is too much pressure to erupt there right now, but that could all change in time. The hydraulic head in the system must be very high right now, it is high enough to suppress the massive fountains of earlier days.

  31. The video shows 4 separate overflows of the crater rim. With that many divisions of the flow plus many more downstream, it’s no wonder that the flows are not reaching as far as previous ones.

    It seems to show that some of the flow is going around the north side of Nar into the western part of Gelingadalir, as someone suggested earlier.

  32. Can someone remind me how to embed images from Imgur?
    Do you need to have an Imgur account?

    I was able to do it before, now it only adds links. I have tried “copy image address” and the link given with “here’s your link”. Is there a trick to it?

    On the plus side, it seems you can use HTML to format text in WordPress.

  33. I think the lava has built up high enough to the north that the old southern direction is now lower down and lava is encouraged to flow there again. The fact that it can flow so far as to almost reach Natthagi even with just 1 of 4 flows going that way means if that newer breach on the south side gains the major share it could be bad news for the walls and that farm, Natthagi is very narrow compared to Meradalir, flows will be more confined.

    It really seems as though every month the eruption just gets absolutely bigger. Back in May lava flows as big as the ones we see now were major events, now if the lava isnt a raging river flowing in open air for 1-2 km it is ‘weak’.
    The eruption is definitely evolving towards episodic behavior of longer duration, the longer this lasts the bigger the magma sotrage wil lget under it and the longer the pauses will be, and larger the eruptions as a result. If this eruption is going to last years we might be looking at some really major stuff later on, stuff that will make the flows of today seem small, Grindavik might be in real danger. Obviously a big assumption this will still be going in a few years but more improbable guesses have proved right so far…

  34. Decent sized collapse/rockfall inside the crater at 8:39:40, sadly no view on what happened, just brown dust being expelled.

      • Nice one, that looked like it initiated at the north wall, one can see hints of it starting at 18:21:40 with some faint brown or orange show up in the back behind the white smoke, and then the big cloud from it crashing down billowing up at 18:21:46 riding up the south wall

  35. Just saw this guy with his lady friend present this red bag before the cam- I take that this is an Icelandic offering to the vulcan god’s-all very strange! O yes our volcano is having a well deserve nap!

  36. Tremor is climbing and orange glow is already showing in the crater.

  37. There seems to be a chimney of smoke arising-(not from main vent) ,but next to vent.It may be nothing in sure someone could explain why it is so.

    • A crack in the edifice where the gas can cool a bit before being released, my guess. This has bene a remarkably slow build up to the next episode. But it seems to have started now, and most of the visible flow is towards Natthagi. But the slope is too shallow for it to be making much progress, and the western and eastern wall are as yet out of reach

  38. Eruption is looking massive now, the lava channel is so fast that it is riding over the top of the hill that divides it, and basically the whole top of the shield is incandescent and flowing, like a lava flood. I remember thinking back in May what it would be like if the volcano went quiet for longer, days rather than minutes, what it would look like. Looks like we know now. If it doesnt erupt for a week one day that is going to be spectacular, erupting at high rate for over 1 day, that is how to get really long flows, the sort that could fill Meradalir, or reach the ocean.

    • Also seems to be a lot of overflows of the crater towads Geldingadalir, that side might be getting thin, the side that eventually collapsed in July began to crumble a week before it failed, this might be the same.

    • i am not seeing anything different from earlier episodes? Lava is vigorous but no more so than the last few days. The flows into Meradalir are actually very feeble today. The lava channel is finding it difficult to keep going, lava is backing up and overflowing in all directions. I see no clear indication that flow rates today are particularly high. There isn’t any lower-level outflow today, and that might be impeding the flow rates. If a part of the crater or flow cannel collapses, we might be getting something spectacular though.

      • I was more meaning in general, not that this particular episode is big. Also meaning the episode might be nearing its peak, or reached it.

        The side facing the webcam is thin and now raised, and seems to be getting overwhelmed, I think it will fail soon. That would be the ‘nuclear option’ to direct all flow to Natthagi.

  39. Ragnar volcano erupting intermittently, is that caused by an upper crustal magma chamber right below Ragnar, which is resupplied after it has been emptied after each eruption of several hours?

    • No, it is gas driven and needs a new supply of volatiles after a while. The sheer height of the cone is becoming difficult to overcome without the added gas pressure. Note that all hills in the area are abut the same height. That is part ice-age erosion, but it also appears that that is how high magma pressure here can reach.

  40. To whomever keeps waving a ski pole at the RUV camera:

    I have a suggestion regarding an alternative place you might put it.


    Someone who is wondering what kind of idiot carries a ski pole around with them in August.

    • I wrote to RUV on Facebook just now, asking them to tell Icelanders to calm down. The World is watching and the Icelandic people are wrecking it. I doubt it will make any difference!
      This is why I nicknamed the camera “Muppet Cam”.

      • RE: “Holy, ‘look Ma I’m on TV!!!”, Batman!

        There’s no help for the brain dead who need to get a life. She’s down there at the end of the valley, cell phone in hand, at the toe of the flow, dressed in her winter best, with her idiot companion, and she’s likely logged into the link, and waving. Some day, one of these yahoos will fall into the muckety-muck and they’ll shut down the site to tourists once and for all and leave the cameras, the techs, and the science folk to their work in peace. One can only hope.

    • It gives you a heart attack, trying to measure something on camera and suddenly have a pole thrown at you. (Although having a Pole thrown might be even worse.) If this was a real video game I’d be looking for the ‘fire’ button.

      • Second on the heart attacks, I like to have my TV on if there is an eruption ongoing when going to sleep (and while working from home), kind of like watching a fire in a fireplace, calming and slowly changing so it’s doesn’t get you excited but doesn’t get boring either. But then suddenly someone jumps in front of the camera just when you start to drift off and give you an heart attack. Darn it 😀

    • Those are probably not ski poles but hiking poles, which are quite common and likely being waved by more than one person.

    • Not a live camera but some of the timelapse cameras are showing flows to the left. This is from the langihryggurNV camera, showing whether flow towards the western wall has reached, as of 10 minutes ago.

  41. The vent is heaving like mad right now! (2.00pm Island time).

    • Imagine if all this lava was channelled in one direction instead of spread out all over the place getting cooled of from the sheer area it’s covering. That would be one impressive lava river…

      • Wait until the side fails, the wall faving the webcam… That will send all the lava going either towards the webcam or into Geldingadalir and there Natthagi in both cases. Will also lower the lake a fair bit, higher fountaining possibly (though current fountains are not small, tens of meters maybe over 100 at times).

        I should think the entire lava flow descending the very steep cliffs of Natthagi will be where we see the new lava world speed record…

        • There has been a small collapse on the left side, starting at 13:00 and made larger at round 15:00. There is quite a lot going into the no-name-valley and perhaps also into Geldingadalir behind the hill (I don’t think there is a camera there). The lava is getting close to the western wall but hasn’t reached it yet, I think.

  42. The boiling in the crater is incredible today! Is there any correlation between the amount of gas being produced and the amount of lava being expelled? And can this give us an indication of what is happening underground? It seems that maybe there isn’t as much lava but more gas compared to earlier in the eruption.

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