Eruption on Iceland's Reykjanes Peninsula 2021: activity updates

Lava cuts off access trail to eruption site

Update Sun 13 Jun 2021 17:18
Narrow lava flow escaping the Gelingadalur Valley to the south and into Nátthagi Valley earlier today (image: Icelandic Coastguard)
Narrow lava flow escaping the Gelingadalur Valley to the south and into Nátthagi Valley earlier today (image: Icelandic Coastguard)
This morning, a lava flow escaped from the Geldingadalir valley at its southern rim, crossed the hiking trail A (which was leading to the observation hills southeast of the active cone), and made its way to the already existing lava flow field in the Nátthagi valley to the SE.
Geldingadalir valley by now is largely filled with lava flows, which continue to pile up layer by layer, and, importantly, by inflation of the still liquid lava body under the mostly solidified crusts. As it thus gradually increases the height of the surface, it allows lava to spill over increasingly wide sections of the enclosing rims.
As to the activity, effusion of lava continues at more or less constant pace, but the pulsating, "geyser-like", rhythmic behavior of strong up-welling and fountaining roughly every 10 minutes has decreased or stopped in favor of a more constant flux of lava from the vent.

Authorities carried out aerial surveys to check if hikers were trapped in the now cut-off areas, and later decided to temporarily close access to the eruption site.
Source: Reykjanesausbruch: Lava versperrt Wanderweg A nun vollständig (Iceland Review)

Reckless tourist narrowly escapes dying in lava flow

Update Sat 12 Jun 2021 12:49
Location of a tourist on the slope of the active cone of the Reykjanes eruption in Iceland, almost caught in lava flows (image: RUV webcam / Iceland Review)
Location of a tourist on the slope of the active cone of the Reykjanes eruption in Iceland, almost caught in lava flows (image: RUV webcam / Iceland Review)
A visitor to the main eruption site in Geldingadalir narrowly escaped a self-provoked catastrophe and cruel death by lava flow. Yesterday (11 June 2021) around noon, a person could be seen on the webcam approaching and presumably attempting to climb the side of the active cone, when a large surge of lava erupted from it and started to rapidly flow downhill towards him or her.
Fortunately, the tourist managed to ran away and the lava flows missed him or her, but it was clearly a very close call. The person must have had made the rather long way across older, already solidified parts of the lava flow field to finally approach and probably climb the active cone, which contains a small lava lake and rhythmically - typically every 10 minutes or so - erupts bubbling fountains and surges of lava that overflow its rims, even though these episodes have been becoming weaker and more rare in the past days.
The webcam recordings show how the person turns around, runs and falls, when he or she realized the imminent danger of the lava surge coming from just a few tens of meters uphill distance. Finally, the lava branches and spares the location of the person who manages to evacuate to safety afterwards.

Unfortunately, it seems that it was not an isolated case: especially since the convenient lookout, the hill just southeast of the cone, has been cut by fresh lava on 4 June and become inaccessible, several people trying to get a better and closer view have been seen venturing on the fresh lava flow field.
Dangers of the fresh lava flow field
Going onto the fresh lava surface is venturing onto very treacherous ground, and putting oneself into serious danger: even if the lava is already cool enough on the surface in many places and at first glance seems easy and safe to walked on, it is highly unstable ground essentially composed of glassy slabs and blocks of unstable lava.
Falling through the thin crusts into cavities underneath, stumbling and hurting oneself badly at the at lava slabs with knife-sharp edges is just one of the various risks involved. Others include getting into hotter-than anticipated areas, gas-becoming trapped in gas and steam pockets, or being surprised by new flows that can break out from tubes underneath, or fast-moving new surface flows. Accidents related to these hazards have frequently occurred on the lava flow fields of Kilauea on Hawai'i, but the presence of an active cone and the relatively small size of the area, the extreme dynamics of the Reykjanes eruption, only increase the risks.
People who ignore warning signs are calling for trouble, and unfortunately, the so-far generous attitude of authorities allowing and even facilitating access to the site, relying on common sense and easy-to-read warning signs, are due to change - thanks to the recklessness of a few ignorant people.

Watch the video here:

Source: Reykjanesausbruch: Abenteurer entkommt Lavaschwall mit knapper Not (Video) (Iceland Review, in German)

New video of eruption

Update Fri 11 Jun 2021 07:41
Our friend Ronny from Belgium just returned from Iceland. We present a selection of his great video clips and photographs taken during 26 May-3 June 2021:

Eruption continues, lava effusion rate increases

Update Thu 03 Jun 2021 19:16
Lava overflow from the main vent at the Reykjanes eruption in Iceland this morning (image: RUV webcam)
Lava overflow from the main vent at the Reykjanes eruption in Iceland this morning (image: RUV webcam)
Tremor amplitude at Krisuvik station (image: Icelandic Met Office)
Tremor amplitude at Krisuvik station (image: Icelandic Met Office)
The eruption goes on with little changes overall, but lava effusion rate has increased a bit to approx. 12.4 cubic meters per second. The activity, however, has remained almost entirely effusive with no more lava fountains from the vents during the past 24 hours.
Most of the time, the erupted magma is going directly into lava tubes, but occasionally, surges of lava also erupt as flows from the rim of the main vent, producing surface flows nearby.
Tremor also increased to higher levels, reflecting the increase in effusion rate.

Activity continues without significant changes, slowly decreasing trend

Update Tue 01 Jun 2021 14:52
Lava fountain activity at Fagradalsfjall last night (image: RUV webcam)
Lava fountain activity at Fagradalsfjall last night (image: RUV webcam)
The eruption continues without significant changes, although overall, its intensity seemed to have been decreasing during the past week.
Episodes of lava fountaining had been becoming more rare and weaker, and the eruption style has for most time been purely effusive: lava erupted from the vents directly is going directly into lava tubes to feed more distant locations of the slowly growing flow field, or into shorter near-vent surface flows.
Last night around midnight, however, an uptick of activity could be seen. Several pulses of low lava fountains occurred at the main crater and lava flow activity seemed to increase at least temporarily.
So far, the newly built western dams (to prevent lava flows going towards and cutting the ring road) seem to hold.

Lava overflows dam, enters valley towards southern Ring Road now in dager being cut

Update Sun 23 May 2021 18:27
Current map of the lava flows as of 23 May 2021 (image:
Current map of the lava flows as of 23 May 2021 (image:
After the lava overtook the artificial dam that had been quickly built in a (failed) attempt to prevent the lava from entering the Natthagi valley, it entered the valley which is leading towards the southern ring road. As it descended the northern headwall of the valley, it created a beautiful lava fall, then formed a new flow along the bottom of the valley and actually following and covering the hiking path leading from the parking at the ring road northwards to the eruption area.
Its front is now very close to the road, probably less than 2 km away and if the eruption continues at its steady (in fact gradually increasing) lava output rate, which is likely, it is only a question of time when and where exactly it will cut it. Small topographic hills and new artificial dams might only be gaining some valuable time, though.
Watch the following videos of the lava fall and the new lava flow:

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