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Eruption Mar 2021 on the Reykjanes Peninsula: activity updates

Overview of the active vents during the eruption so far (as of 3 May 2021)
Overview of the active vents during the eruption so far (as of 3 May 2021)
A strong seismic crisis has been occurring on the Reykjanes peninsula near Fagradalsfjall mountain since mid Feb 2021, involving several magnitude 5+ and thousands of smaller ones. Volcanic tremor has appeared recently as well, indicating that magma movements underneath are likely accompanying and/or causing the seismic swarm. A new eruption in the area started on 19 March 2021 evening.
Link: Watch the eruption on the RUV webcam

Archived updates
Part 1, Feb-Mar 2021 (seismic crisis)

Intermittent lava fountains continue

Update Tue 04 May 2021 15:56
Lava fountain from the central vent of Iceland's ongoing eruption in the Reykjanes peninsula (image: RUV webcam)
Lava fountain from the central vent of Iceland's ongoing eruption in the Reykjanes peninsula (image: RUV webcam)
Updated map of the areas covered with lava so far (image: Ragnar Heiðar Þrastarson from IMO @RagnarHeidar / twitter)
Updated map of the areas covered with lava so far (image: Ragnar Heiðar Þrastarson from IMO @RagnarHeidar / twitter)
The activity has remained similar as during the past 48 hours, characterized by intermittent episodes of pulsating lava fountains from the central vent following periods of calm lava effusion.
Some of the fountaining episodes during the past hours seem to have been again relatively intense, with heights of estimated 100-200 m. The periods between individual fountaining episodes have been about 30-60 minutes.
The onset of a lava fountaining phase as a series of large gas bubbles arrive can be seen in the following drone video:
The activity has remained similar as during the past 48 hours, characterized by intermittent episodes of pulsating lava fountains from the central vent following periods of calm lava effusion.
Some of the fountaining episodes during the past hours seem to have been again relatively intense, with heights of estimated 100-200 m. The periods between individual fountaining episodes have been about 30-60 minutes.
The onset of a lava fountaining phase as a series of large gas bubbles arrive can be seen in the following drone video:

Eruption with hickups - what the changes from calm to lava fountains might mean

Update Mon 03 May 2021 10:29
Phase of strong lava fountain yesterday around noon (image: RUV webcam)
Phase of strong lava fountain yesterday around noon (image: RUV webcam)
The eruptive activity remains overall similar as during yesterday, with alternating phases of lava fountaining and only more or less quiet lava effusion. It seems that most activity by now is concentrated at the vent #5 in the central part of the fissure system, which had began erupting on 13 April.
In the past 12 hours, the lava fountains from the cone did not reach the same intensity as during yesterday morning, and intervals between these seem to have increased, but this could change quickly.
More interestingly, what exactly caused the observed change in eruptive behavior, from being extremely stable over many weeks with constant stead lava effusion and mild spattering at several vents, to now pulsating, switching from quiet effusion at low rate to strong lava fountaining from a single vent? What could this observed instability mean for the near future of the eruption?
That question is difficult to answer. The immediate cause of the intermittent strong lava fountaining phases is that gasses contained in the magma have now been released in batches as opposed to a steady flow at constant rate, which had been the case before.
Only what exactly causes this change to a rhythmic pattern is more difficult to know: one model might be it is caused by newly developed blockages in the (upper) plumbing system, or "bottlenecks", and / or, likely in combination with the arrival of more gas-rich magma, according to volcanologist Ármann Höskuldsson, cited in an article on Icelandic National Broadcasting Service's website (RUV):
"We're trying to understand the sore throat it appears to have got. I guess not only is there more gas in there, but there are also either bottlenecks or blockages down there and probably more water in the magma."

According to Þorvaldur Þórðarson, professor of volcanology, the eruption has entered a phase of being more volatile, and despite the apparent calmer phases in between the more active ones, it is not clear whether this suggests it is in decline or increase:
"But what is happening is that the gas that is being released from the magma, it is not flowing out of the magma as it has done so far, but it seems to come with certain pulses into the system and then tear itself up. There is something that is delaying the gas release for a certain period of time, until pressure builds up and the gas-rich magma manages to erupt to the surface in form of large jets"

Source / Link: Gígurinn þeytir kviku 300 metra upp í loft (RUV)

Fagradalsfjall volcano update: stunning video of lava fountains

Mon, 3 May 2021, 08:18
08:18 AM | AUTORE: MARTIN
Lava fountains, about 300 m tall, pulsated at regular intervals of 7 to 10 minutes (image: @gislio/twitter)
Lava fountains, about 300 m tall, pulsated at regular intervals of 7 to 10 minutes (image: @gislio/twitter)
A spectacular footage of tonight's lava fountains visible from Iceland's capital - Reykjavík can be seen in the attached video below.

Fagradalsfjall volcano update: pulsating taller-than-usual lava fountains

Mon, 3 May 2021, 07:54
07:54 AM | AUTORE: MARTIN
Lava fountains, about 300 m tall, pulsated at regular intervals of 7 to 10 minutes (image: @gislio/twitter)
Lava fountains, about 300 m tall, pulsated at regular intervals of 7 to 10 minutes (image: @gislio/twitter)
Lava fountains associated with gas and steam plumes visible from Iceland's capital Reykjavík (image: @gislio/twitter)
Lava fountains associated with gas and steam plumes visible from Iceland's capital Reykjavík (image: @gislio/twitter)
The effusive eruption of the volcano continues from all fissure vents. The activity continued at stable levels over the past days until it began to fluctuate yesterday.
Starting around 01:00 local time tonight, the spatter cone started to erupt taller-than-usual lava fountains of up to perhaps 300 m height characterized by regular pulsating at intervals of 7 to 10 minutes.
Emissions of gas and steam plumes were dispersed about 300 m to the southwest of the eruption site.
The reason of this change in the activity is not clear yet, but the discharge rate of this eruption seems rather higher compared to most previous eruptions of the eruption site likely caused by magma/gas composition change at shallow level.
Source: Icelandic Met Office volcano activity update 3 May 2021

Fagradalsfjall volcano update: lava remains at steady flow rate

Wed, 28 Apr 2021, 08:34
08:34 AM | AUTORE: MARTIN
The graph depicts parameters of the lava flow discharge rate, lava flow area and lava volume of the current eruption site (image: IMO)
The graph depicts parameters of the lava flow discharge rate, lava flow area and lava volume of the current eruption site (image: IMO)
The University of Iceland's Institute of Earth Sciences published the latest lava volume, lava flow area and lava flow discharge rate data of the current eruption site as a flight observation was realized yesterday.
An average lava flow discharge rate at the eruption site over the past 5 days is 6 cubic meters per second, which indicates a steady flow rate. This value is similar to the long-term average (38 days) estimated to be 5.3 cubic m/s.
The lava volume is approximately 18.5 million cubic meters erupted from all vents.
The lava flow area covered 1.13 square km with an average thickness of 16 meters.
Source: Icelandic Met Office volcano activity update 28 April 2021

Eruption continues with lava flows slowly filling two valleys

Update Mon 26 Apr 2021 20:32
Yesterday's lava flow at Fagradalsfjall volcano (image: facebook.com/bjorgunarsveitinthorbjorn)
Yesterday's lava flow at Fagradalsfjall volcano (image: facebook.com/bjorgunarsveitinthorbjorn)
The eruption from Fagradalsfjall continues with little changes overall and no signs of stopping any time soon. Fluid lava is being erupted from several vents along 3 fissure segments, and slowly forms growing shields piling up in the valley floors.
The following animation (twitter) shows how lava has been filling Geldingadalur and, since 5 April when the second fissure opened, the adjacent Meradalur valley to the northeast of Geldingadalur:

A new lava flow made its way through a narrow valley into Meradalur yesterday, threatening to cut a hiking trail. Although eventually this didn't happen, rescue teams evacuated some visitors in areas threatened to be cut off.
Video of the new lava flow:

Fagradalsfjall volcano (Reykjanes Peninsula, Iceland): monthly eruption summary

Wed, 21 Apr 2021, 09:42
09:42 AM | AUTORE: MARTIN
The graph shows parameters of the lava flow discharge rate, lava area, lava volume, rock geochemistry and volcanic gases over the past month (image: IMO)
The graph shows parameters of the lava flow discharge rate, lava area, lava volume, rock geochemistry and volcanic gases over the past month (image: IMO)
The University of Iceland's Institute of Earth Sciences reported a summary of eruption parameters documented since March 19, since the eruption at Fagradalsfjall one month ago. The parameters showed lava flow discharge rate, lava area, lava volume, rock geochemistry and volcanic gases. The graph below depicts an overview of the results.

Lava flow discharge rate
The monthly average lava flow discharge rate at the eruption site is 5.3 cubic meters per second, which indicates a stable flow level in comparison to the most other eruptions.
The average discharge rate during the first 17 days after the eruption was approximately 4.5-5 cubic meters per second, but over the past 13 days the lava flow rate increased to 7 cubic meters per second. From April 12-18 it increased to a record 8 cubic meters per second.

Lava flow area
The lava flow area covered 0.89 square km.

Lava flow volume
Scientists estimate that approximately 14 million cubic meters of the lava have so far erupted from all vents.

Rock geochemistry
The graph shows the weight percent (wt.%) of magnesium oxide (MgO) (9%) and titanium oxide (TiO2) (1%) in the erupted magma.

Volcanic gases
Monthly average sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions reached 2000 tons per day and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions reached 5000 tons per day.

Source: Icelandic Met Office volcano activity update 21 April 2021

Fagradalsfjall volcano (Reykjanes Peninsula, Iceland): new fissure vent opened

Mon, 19 Apr 2021, 08:37
08:37 AM | AUTORE: MARTIN
Yellow mark indicates the spot of the new fissure vent. The image shows all current eruptive fissures at the eruption site (image: @Icevolcanx/twitter)
Yellow mark indicates the spot of the new fissure vent. The image shows all current eruptive fissures at the eruption site (image: @Icevolcanx/twitter)
The effusive eruption of the volcano continues.
A new fissure vent opened on 17 April at around 03:00 local time at the current eruption site, the 7th in row.
The small vent is located on the lava flow field between the existing fourth and sixth fissure vent as can be seen in the image.
The Icelandic Met Office (IMO) confirmed that the volcanic tremor decreased before the new fissure vent opened at eruption site.
Source: Icelandic Met Office volcano activity update 19 April 2021

Fagradalsfjall volcano (Reykjanes Peninsula, Iceland): 5th and 6th eruptive fissures opened today

Tue, 13 Apr 2021, 10:20
10:20 AM | AUTORE: MARTIN
New eruptive fissures recorded on live webcam (image: @fencingtobba/twitter)
New eruptive fissures recorded on live webcam (image: @fencingtobba/twitter)
Another two eruptive fissures opened today, exactly the 5th and 6th in row. The two new vents are located between the first and third, and between the third and fourth eruptive sites, respectively.
Lava spattering started to build new spatter cones and feed lava flows into both valleys as during the previous eruptive phases.

Formation of the new eruptive fissures:

Fagradalsfjall volcano (Reykjanes Peninsula, Iceland): 4th eruptive fissure opened

Sun, 11 Apr 2021, 16:49
16:49 PM | AUTORE: MARTIN
The fourth eruptive fissure captured on live webcam (image: RÚV webcam)
The fourth eruptive fissure captured on live webcam (image: RÚV webcam)
People should avoid the danger area (red lined) due to unexpected new lava flows (image: IMO)
People should avoid the danger area (red lined) due to unexpected new lava flows (image: IMO)
People watch the lava flow field (image: @brianemfinger/twitter)
People watch the lava flow field (image: @brianemfinger/twitter)
The Icelandic Met Office (IMO) noted that a fourth eruptive fissure opened on 9 April at about 03:00 local time. Located between the second and third eruption site, the new fissure vent started to erupt another basaltic lava flow. Preliminary measurements indicate that the lava flow's discharge rate likely will increase. The all lava flows traveling to Geldingadalir and Meradalir valley.
With the opening another fissures, released sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions from the lava flows and cones have increased and caused heavy gas pollution detected around the eruptions sites.
Scientists warn people about opening a new fissures with little to no warning in the next few days or weeks that could pose an acute danger to people. An attached map shows a danger (red line) area where a new lava flows suddenly could start to erupt that is difficult to avoid. This indicates that the flux of magma is located at shallow level and pushes its way up to the surface.

Fagradalsfjall volcano (Reykjanes Peninsula, Iceland): 3rd eruptive fissure opened yesterday

Thu, 8 Apr 2021, 08:37
08:37 AM | AUTORE: MK
Aerial view of the all eruption sites (image: IMO)
Aerial view of the all eruption sites (image: IMO)
The new lava flow after opening the 3rd eruptive fissure vent (image: RUV.is webcam)
The new lava flow after opening the 3rd eruptive fissure vent (image: RUV.is webcam)
The IMO's map shows the layout of the three eruption sites with estimated thickness and distances reached by the lava flow fields (image: IMO)
The IMO's map shows the layout of the three eruption sites with estimated thickness and distances reached by the lava flow fields (image: IMO)
A third eruptive fissure opened yesterday at midnight. Located between the first and second eruption site, the new fissure vent started to erupt basaltic lava flows traveling mostly into the Geldingadalir valley, but also into the Meradalir valley where a new lava flow field is growing.
Most lava is directed into a main channel at an estimated discharge rate of about 7 cubic m/s, which indicates very low viscosity. For comparison, the effusion rate from the growing cones around the first eruption site had been estimated to be about 5.5 cubic m/s.
Basalt lavas with this property are fast, thin, and spread extensively into sheet-like flow fields with aspect ratios between thickness and covered area of less than 1%.
The lava flow in the main channel is bounded by levées, natural banks that form at the sides of the flow, visible in the attached video below.
The Icelandic Met Office (IMO) estimates that approx. 265 million cubic feet (7,5 million cubic meters) of the lava have so far erupted from all vents. A useful map published by the IMO shows the layout of the three eruption sites with estimated thickness and distances reached by the lava flow fields.
Judging from the webcam live imagery, there is near-constant lava spattering from the fissure vents, which have been building steep-sided cones above the eruption points on the fissures (also called hornitos).

The main lava channel with levées at the sides of the flow:

New eruptive fissure opens 1 km northeast of current eruption site

Mon, 5 Apr 2021, 22:11
22:11 PM | AUTORE: T
The new eruptive fissure that opened today in Iceland (image: Almannavarnir / facebook)
The new eruptive fissure that opened today in Iceland (image: Almannavarnir / facebook)
A new eruptive fissure opened today approx. 1 km northeast of the so-far active eruption site. The seismic network detected at 11:37 local time a sharp peak in tremor at 1 km depth, which announced its formation shortly after as magma broke through the surface along a new section further upslope on top of the active magma intrusion underneath.
According to the Icelandic Met Office (IMO), the new eruptive fissure is about 500 m long. It actually seems to consist of two close-by fractures, a larger and a smaller one, both erupting small lava fountains and feeding a new lava flow towards the east.
A few spatter cones have already been forming from lava fountaining along the fissure. Fortunately, the main RÚV webcamera zoomed on the beginning of the event at the right time as can be seen in the video below.
According to the University of Iceland, the new lava flow continues at extremely high discharge rate as a viscosity of the flow is about 10^2 Pa. The lava flow has been traveling east and continues to fill up the Meradalir valley, adjacent to Geldingadalir valley (the site of the previous phase of activity) and is about to pool into a new lava flow field.

What caused the opening of the new fissure?
There are two possibilities:
a) The rising magma flux that continues to feed the ongoing eruption was about to be blocked and likely found a new weak spot.
b) The dike was slowly closing as the magma inside was cooling and this squeezed out the remaining liquid.

The immediate area was evacuated. There was no imminent danger to life due to the site's distance form the known hiking paths.
The Aviation Color Code remains at Orange.
The ongoing eruption in Geldingadalir shows no signs of weakening and the activity has been building a slowly growing cone around the two active vents in the center.

The beginning of the new eruptive fissure:

New eruptive fissure opened today

Update Mon 05 Apr 2021 20:08
The new eruptive fissure continues to be active to the NE of the continuing eruption (image: @sandrasnaebj/twitter)
The new eruptive fissure continues to be active to the NE of the continuing eruption (image: @sandrasnaebj/twitter)
The new lava flow continues to fill up the Meradalir valley (image: @krjonsdottir/twitter)
The new lava flow continues to fill up the Meradalir valley (image: @krjonsdottir/twitter)
Estimated direction of the lava flow according to the Uniersity of Iceland (image: @uni_iceland/twitte)
Estimated direction of the lava flow according to the Uniersity of Iceland (image: @uni_iceland/twitte)
A new eruptive fissure opened today located approx. 1 km northeast of the growing cone as the seismic network detected at 11:37 local time a sharp peak in tremor at 1 km depth. According to the Icelandic Met Office (IMO), the new eruptive fissure is about 500 m long and has been producing constant lava fountains. A few small spatter cones have been forming from a lava spattering along the fissure. Fortunately, the main RÚV webcamera zoomed on the beginning of the event at the right time as can be seen in the video below.
According to the University of Iceland, a new lava flow from the fissure vent continues at extremely high discharge rate as a viscosity of the flow is about 10^2 Pa. The lava flow has been traveling east and continues to fill up the Meradalir valley, adjacent to Geldingadalir valley, where a new lava flow field is forming.

What caused the opening of the new fissure?
There are two possibilities:
a) The rising magma flux that continues to feed the ongoing eruption was about to be blocked and likely found a new weak spot.
b) The dike was slowly closing as the magma inside was cooling and this squeezed out the remaining liquid.

The immediate area was evacuated. There was no imminent danger to life due to the site's distance form the known hiking paths.
The Aviation Color Code remains at Orange.
The ongoing eruption in Geldingadalir shows no signs of weakening and the activity has been building a slowly growing cone around the two active vents in the center.

The beginning of the new eruptive fissure:

Eruption goes on, filling Geldingadalir valley

Update Fri 02 Apr 2021 09:51
View of the eruption in Iceland this morning (image: RUV webcam)
View of the eruption in Iceland this morning (image: RUV webcam)
The eruption in Geldingadalir, now soon two weeks old, shows no signs of weakening. Activity has been building a slowly growing cone around the two active vents in the center, which undergoes constant modifications by accumulating spatter and smaller and larger collapses.
The lava flows continue to fill the valley and might soon start overflowing into one of the adjacent ones; there are even unconfirmed reports that it might have already started to do so.
In the meanwhile, the photo taken on 31 March does beautifully illustrate how the eruption has modified the local topography:

Icelandic scientists from the Met Office reported:
The erupted lava "is basaltic and highly fluid with little explosive activity. It is a very small eruption and the lava flow has been steady at 5-7 m3/s since its onset. Currently the extent of the lava field is within Geldingadalur but if the eruption keeps ongoing at a similar rate, it is modeled that the lava will flow east towards Merardalur valley.
If the volcano continues to erupt it could eventually end up being categorized as a shield volcano. Shield volcanoes are generally formed over long time periods with lava fields extending from a few to several kilometers around its source. There is no way to tell how long the eruption will last."

"The current magma is rich in MgO (8.5%) which indicates that it is from depths of around 17-20 km. There has been constant gas pollution close to the eruption site, spatially determined by local wind conditions. Gases can accumulate to life-threatening levels in certain weather conditions. There have been no indications of significant tectonic movements since the eruption started. There is currently no indication of new openings at other locations along the magma injection path."

Stunning images of the eruption abound on the web in numerous places, such as:

As Iceland's eruption goes on, lava might fill the valley and overflow to the next one

Update Fri 26 Mar 2021 06:53
View of the ongoing eruption in Iceland this morning (image: RUV webcam)
View of the ongoing eruption in Iceland this morning (image: RUV webcam)
Model of the lava fill after 12 days of eruption (image: Ragnar Heiðar Þrastarson / twitter)
Model of the lava fill after 12 days of eruption (image: Ragnar Heiðar Þrastarson / twitter)
Model of the lava fill after 17 days of eruption (image: Ragnar Heiðar Þrastarson / twitter)
Model of the lava fill after 17 days of eruption (image: Ragnar Heiðar Þrastarson / twitter)
The eruption is now almost a week old and shows little signs of stopping anytime soon. Activity is now concentrated at two adjacent vents of a growing cone in the central part of the original eruptive fissure. They are filled with spectacularly boiling (degassing) lava that flows away to form thin flows that overlap on a growing lava field, that slowly but surely is filling the Geldingadalur valley.
The question is of course, how long will it take to fill the valley and get lava reach its lowest pass to the next valley.
Scientists have modeled this: if the current eruption rate of 5.8 cubic meters continues at such rate for a total of 12 days (another 5-6 days from now), it will have filled the valley and start overflowing into the neighboring valley to the SW.
Speculations circulate already that if this eruption continues for a very long time (years), we might see the formation of a new shield volcano. It is impossible to predict this, especially such a short time after the start, but intriguing nevertheless. In any case, we would be now watching the birth phase of a potential shield volcano right now!

Further recommended reading:

Update Wed 24 Mar 2021 21:30
For those interested in understanding of how the current eruption works from a geology point of view and what can be said (or not) about its future, we recommend this brilliant post on Volcano Cafe: The Reykjanes eruption: a look underground!

Eruption continues in its fourth day, scientists find evidence of magma came quickly from very deep

Update Wed 24 Mar 2021 19:01
Weather conditions can be difficult on Iceland in March - view of the ongoing eruptino this afternoon (RUV webcam)
Weather conditions can be difficult on Iceland in March - view of the ongoing eruptino this afternoon (RUV webcam)
The eruption continues with little changes, but it has provided scientists already with very interesting results that might provide unique insights into a type of eruption that hasn't been observed on Iceland in a long time.
Volcanologists sampled and analyzed the lava and found that it must have come directly from the mantle source at 17-20 km depth, because its composition was primitive, i.e. had shown little signs of chemical alteration (differentiation) that would have occurred if it had been stored in shallower reservoirs in the crust for a longer period.
More specifically, the magma that is being erupted now has a composition known as tholeiitic basalt, a melt typically produced at mid-ocean ridges. Although Iceland is a part of the north Atlantic mid-ocean ridge, it forms a large plateau and eruptions of this type of melt directly is rare on Iceland. The last known occurrence of such magma erupted on the Reykjanes peninsula is thought to have been more than 14,000 years ago, when Iceland was still completely covered by ice.
At the moment, the lava effusion rate is estimated to be around 5-10 cubic meters per second, not much for an Icelandic eruption, but if the passage from mantle to surface is "open" for the magma to flow freely, scientists speculate that the eruption could last a long time, even years, according to geologist Magnús Á. Sigurgeirsson quoted in a press article.
Source: Long-Lasting Shield Volcano Eruption? Magma from Mantle (Iceland Review)

Visiting the eruption
If the above is the case, Iceland's tourist industry will certainly be happy. Already now, hundreds if not thousands of visitors have been flocking to the eruption site every day, mostly on foot on a several-hours hike from Grindavík or other places accessible by road, but also by helicopter and small aircraft.
Kilometer-long lines of parked vehicles on the nearest roads and large crowds of tourists in front of the eruption etc have been common sights during the past days. Due to potentially dangerous conditions that may be present due to volcanic gasses, unstable lava terrain, quickly changing weather conditions, and probably the fact that many poorly-prepared hikers attempted to visit the area, authorities wanted first to close access, but decided to reopened it, and make access as easy and safe as possible.
According to Iceland Review, volunteers have marked a shorter and safer hiking path up to the eruption site, which only takes about an hour and a half for well-prepared hikers, being 3.5km each way or 7 km in total long.

Eruption continues steadily, smaller vent at side of main cone becoming more active

Update Tue 23 Mar 2021 20:30
View of the ongoing eruption in Iceland this evening (image: RUV webcam)
View of the ongoing eruption in Iceland this evening (image: RUV webcam)
The eruption continues with little changes and stead lava output. In the past hours, the hornito (small cone-shaped vent) at the side of the main vent has been becoming more active, seen left in the image of the live camera.
In a tweet, Iceland's Morgunblaðið (mbl.is) actually mentions that a "new smaller fissure has opened" up onn the side of the main crater, but it is not quite the case. To speak of a new fissure in the context of this eruption would imply a new deeper structure that formed a completely new pathway for magma to rise from the reservoir to the surface. What we're seening is actually still the same fissure where one of the earlier eruption points is now becoming more active again - as the main vent grew larger and taller with time, the rising magma seems to be finding an easier way to erupt from a lower point.
Said this, the scenario that new eruptive fissures open in the area is a real possibility and might well occur at some point.

First available satellite image of eruption in Iceland's Reykjanes peninsula

Update Tue 23 Mar 2021 09:03
The first satellite image of the ongoing eruption at Reykjanes peninsula visible from space (image: @tonyveco/twitter)
The first satellite image of the ongoing eruption at Reykjanes peninsula visible from space (image: @tonyveco/twitter)
An observation satellite Landsat 8 captured the first satellite image of the continuing effusive eruption near Fagradalsfjall mountain from yesterday.

Seismicity has decreased

Update Tue 23 Mar 2021 08:45
The main spatter cone (image: volcanocafe.org)
The main spatter cone (image: volcanocafe.org)
The seismic activity of the ongoing eruption in Reykjanes peninsula has decreased as reported the Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO).
Sharp peaks in tremor and frequent earthquakes accompanied the continuing eruption until the seismic activity slowed down significantly in the metabolic zone at Fagradalsfjall.
The seismic instruments recorded about 160 quakes yesterday with the largest earthquake of magnitude M 2.9 at 1 km depth southwest of Keilir.
The lava flow field is slowly expanding and thickening as the main spatter cone fountaining continues to feed the valley floor.

Partial collapse of main spatter cone

Update Mon 22 Mar 2021 08:06
Watch the actively growing main spatter cone (also known as hornito) partially collapse due to the ongoing vigorous lava spattering and almost causing a disaster when a group of local observers were too close to the cone.

Eruption in Iceland's Reykjanes peninsula continues without signs of stopping

Update Mon 22 Mar 2021 07:30
Current view of the eruption in Iceland (image: screenshot of RUV's live-stream webcam)
Current view of the eruption in Iceland (image: screenshot of RUV's live-stream webcam)
Vigorous lava spattering is seen from the main vent, which has been building a steep-sided cone above the eruptive fissure. Over its two and half days of existence, this cone (also called a hornito currently) has been growing, sometimes partially collapsing, and thus changing its shape a lot, and it might evolve eventually into a new small mountain.
At the moment, the main vent contains a small cauldron of boiling lava from where several lava flows descend into the valley, where they form a spreading field of lava that slowly but surely is covering the valley floor.
Update Sun 21 Mar 2021 18:33
The eruption is still ongoing. According to the Icelandic Met Office, "lava fountain activity is low and mapping of the lava flow is in progress. No volcanic ash has been detected but high level of volcanic gases has been measured close to the eruption site."

Eruption continues at steady pace, might go on for weeks

Update Sun 21 Mar 2021 14:39
View of the ongoing eruption this morning (image: Civil Protection and Emergency Management via IMO / twitter)
View of the ongoing eruption this morning (image: Civil Protection and Emergency Management via IMO / twitter)
Map of the eruption so far (image: VolcanoCafe)
Map of the eruption so far (image: VolcanoCafe)
The new eruption, now called the "Geldingadalsgos" eruption by the Icelandic media, continues steadily. It has been producing slowly advancing lava flows inside the Geldingadal valley. The Icelandic Met Office and local news outlets published many new photos from the ongoing eruption this morning.
The isolated location in Geldingadalur valley means there is no immediate danger to any infrastructure. Volcanic gases are not currently being blown over any towns or villages and are unlikely to cause any problems even if the wind changes direction, according to the Icelandic Met Office (IMO).

Six or more vents above the eruptive fissure have formed smaller and one larger spatter cones, where the activity is concentrated now, mainly from the largest one in the middle, which likely will become the main (and only) active vent in a short time.
There is little lava fountaining from the vents, only mild spattering, but largely degassed magma erupts steadily into flows directed into two main flow fields, a narrower one to the southwest and a broader field to the north and northwest.
Both lava fields have reached approx. 500 m length and the total area covered by new lava was estimated to be around 0.1 km2 with an average thickness of about 10 m, thus giving a total volume of 1 million cubic m and an average eruption rate of approx. 15 m3 per second, similar to the estimates done previously of the magma influx into the dike that is now feeding the eruption.

How long might the eruption continue?
Nobody can know for sure how long this eruption can continue, but most scientists are currently thinking that it might be several weeks or months. It largely depends on how much magma is available (and able to reach the surface), and how long the magma resupply into the dike continues, and how long the current magma pathways are stable (and not changed by new earthquakes, opening of fractures etc).
If the reported dike was 10 km long, about 5 km tall and 1 m wide, it would contain approx. 50 million cubic meters, enough to let the eruption continue for several weeks at the current effusion rate, if about half of what is stored in it now would erupt, not counting the volume added by ongoing supply from deeper levels.

What about the earthquakes?
Earthquakes continue at reduced rate - as lava is flowing freely now, it doesn't need to break rocks to generate new paths. In fact, no significant shallow quakes have been detected in the area since the eruption. However, deeper earthquakes at 4-6 km depth continue,- something that suggests that in the lower parts of the dike, things are not stable yet and the eruption might evolve in different ways than continue just as it is now.

Ancient burial site threatened by lava flows
As the valley where the eruption is taking place is home to an ancient burial site dating back to before the year 1000, a spot where the remains of the Norse settler Ísólfur frá Ísólfsstöðum lie, now threatened to be covered forever, archeologists rushed into place yesterday to do some "rescue excavations":
Yesterday archaeologists were trying to get as much information about the possible grave as it was swallowed by the lava. They were frantically trying to do some rescue archeology in front of an approaching wall of lava. pic.twitter.com/0ZQHO3vPbj— Philipp Salzgeber (@astro_graph) March 21, 2021

Sources and further information:
- Reykjanes: the second day (VolcanoCafe - great overall information, maps etc)
- Lava field expanding slowly but surely (RUV - photos and local news)
Eruption on Iceland's Reykjanes Peninsula follows over 50,000 quakes since late February 2021
Update Sat 20 Mar 2021 15:13
View of the ongoing eruption in Iceland (image: IMO / twitter)
View of the ongoing eruption in Iceland (image: IMO / twitter)
First images arrive from the scene of the new eruption.
SO far, it has been a small event for Icelandic volcano standards, though. The volcanic activity along the eruptive fissure has decreased somewhat since yesterday. The lava fountains from the vents on the eruptive fissure are only weak and the lava output rate is small, the Icelandic Met Office (IMO) who monitor the eruption reported.
The lava flows cover an area that is at most about 500 meters wide. The eruption is limited to a small area in the Geldingadalir valley and it is unlikely that lava flow will cause damage to infrastructure.

Record-breaking number of earthquakes preceding the eruption
Following weeks of consistent seismic activities totaling over 50,000 quakes since 24 February 2021, Iceland's Krysuvik Volcanic System finally erupted. The number of earthquakes recorded during the build-up preceding the eruption is easily the largest number of earthquakes during a seismic swarm ever recorded in Iceland!

According to the Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO), the eruption started at 8:45 pm local time in Fagradalsfjall in Geldingadalur. The eruption was first observed on a web camera positioned close by. IMO also confirmed the eruption on thermal satellite imagery.
The fissure is located in a valley about 4.7 km from the southern coast of the Peninsula. Grindavik is the closest populated area located 10 km southwest of the eruption site, but it is currently uninhabited. IMO stated that seismic activities and magma intrusions has been lower in the recent days. Low-frequency earthquakes were recorded below Fagradalsfjall earlier in the day.

The eruption was discovered with a 200-meter fissure that had begun producing lava. Within hours, however, the fissure grew to about 500-700 meters. Small lava fountains were noted along the length of the fissure. IMO also noted that the lava seems to be flowing slowly to the southwest.
The map above shows the source of the volcanic eruption at Geldingadalur, close to Fagradalsfjall on the Reykjanes Peninsula. The image shows the first look at the eruption taken by the Icelandic Coast Guard and features the 200-meter-long fissure with approximately 2.6 km stretch of lava flow.

There have been no reports of ash fall as of the time of this writing. However, tephra and gas emissions are to be expected. Iceland's Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management advised residents to close their windows and stay indoors to avoid any direct contact with volcanic gases from the eruption. Reykjanesbraut, the main highway from the capital region to Reykanesbaer and Keflavik international airport, was also closed. This is to restrict access of civilians in the area, and for first responders to be able to drive freely to assess the situation. The aviation color warning over the Reykjanes Peninsula was elevated to red, signifying ongoing eruption in the area.
The fissure eruption in the Reykjanes Peninsula is an effusive one, described by steady outflow of lava from the formed fissure on the ground.
The Krýsuvík-Trölladyngja volcanic system has been inactive for the past 9 centuries, while the area of Fagradalsfjall, considered either a volcanic system in its own or a western branch of the Krýsuvík-Trölladyngja system, has not had any historical activity.

The last eruption in the wider area dated back to the 14th century. The volcanic system has a tendency to exhibit phreatic eruptions. This occurs when magma interacts with water leading to a very violent explosion. Phreatic eruptions in the volcanic system may result during simultaneous rifting and eruption episodes as the Reykjanes Peninsula has a high ground water level.
Iceland eruption small so far, not expected to cause major problems
Update Sat 20 Mar 2021 06:27
View of the glow from the new eruption this moring (image: RUV webcam)
View of the glow from the new eruption this moring (image: RUV webcam)
View of the eruption area (modified from Iceland Monitor)
View of the eruption area (modified from Iceland Monitor)
The new eruption is located near Geldingadalir, around the center of the recent dike intrusion of magma that has formed under the peninsula over the recent weeks. It started very quietly with almost no seismic activity when finally, a fissure opened, reaching around 500-700 m length.
The monitoring Icelandic Met Office (IMO) first became aware of the eruption from local reports of visible glow in the area about half an hour after the onset of activity.
In fact, its timing and location surprised scientists. They had expected the most likely place for magma to push up to the surface being close to the southern end of the dike, where most seismic activity had taken place recently.
Instead, it chose to break out right above the center of the recent intrusion, near Geldingadalir valley, east of Fagradalsfjall and close to Stóri-hrútur.

Eruption hazards:
So far, the eruption is small and does not cause any concern for potential damage. No significant amounts of ash have been released - this is mostly due to the fact that differently than the notorious 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption, there is no ice covering the vents.
The Keflavik airport is not affected by the eruption and the no-fly zone over the eruption area does not contain Keflavik. Unless the eruption dynamic changes significantly, something not expected for the immediate future, there should be no disruptions of air traffic.
Concerning the lava flows, there are currently two narrow tongues flowing south-south-west and another to the west. The location of the eruption near Geldingadalir is in an area with very little infrastructure potentially at risk, something Icelandic authorities likely are happy about.

Warning of volcanic gas in nearby downwind areas:
People in Þorlákshöfn are being advised to remain indoors and keep windows closed, as a precaution against volcanic gases. Þorlákshöfn is the closest community downwind this evening. Grindavík town is upwind.
Fortunately, due to the small scale of the the eruption so far, the amounts of gasses released are small and it is not expected to become a major threat. However, people with respiratory problems can be at risk. The Meteorological Office warned that if wind changes according to forecast, the Reykjavik region might likely get some sniffs of sulphur dioxide plumes tomorrow tonight (20 Mar 21).

Visiting the eruption:
According to RUV, glow of the lava from the fissure and the lava flows can be seen over a wide area including relatively far-away locations such as Hafnarfjörður and Þorlákshöfn.
The government urged people to stay away from the area, in particular in order to avoid exposure to volcanic gasses released by the eruption. In addition, the closest roads are closed and "there is little to see", the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service (RUV) writes.

Sources:
- Icelandic National Broadcasting Service
- Iceland Monitor
Webcams
Update Sat 20 Mar 2021 05:52
Icelandic radio/tv RUV has a webcam pointing to the eruption.

New volcanic eruption started last evening

Update Sat 20 Mar 2021 05:15
First view of the new eruption in Iceland (image: Coast Guard helicopter, via IMO / twitter).
First view of the new eruption in Iceland (image: Coast Guard helicopter, via IMO / twitter).
Location of the new eruption on Iceland (image: IMO / twitter)
Location of the new eruption on Iceland (image: IMO / twitter)
Seismograph showing the hours before the eruption. A very low tremor is current to the right of the image and only on those monitors next to the eruption site (image: IMO / twitter)
Seismograph showing the hours before the eruption. A very low tremor is current to the right of the image and only on those monitors next to the eruption site (image: IMO / twitter)
Finally, a new volcanic eruption started last evening around 20:45 local time on 19 Mar 2021 on the Reykjanes peninsula!
A new fissure about 200 m long opened near Geldingadalur, close to Fagradalsfjall mountain, where the seismic activity had been focussed lately.
Small lava fountains along the fissure feed two slowly advancing lava flows to the southwest and west. According to the Icelandic Met Office (IMO), the most advanced front had reached an area about 2.6 km from Suðurstrandarvegur.

The eruption came somewhat as a surprise at this stage of the ongoing seismic crisis, because the seismic and ground deformation activity had decreased during the past days compared to the preceding weeks. Some scientists had started to speculate that the process might rather be calming down instead of developing into an eruption.
In fact, the eruption occurred with very weak seismic activity accompanying it. IMO's seismic stations only recorded weak volcanic tremor during the onset of the eruption.
A possible explanation is that the ground by now in this area had been already fractured so much by the preceding earthquakes that it was extremely easy for the magma to rise from the dike the last approx. 1000 meters upwards to reach and break out at the surface.


We will follow up on this event as more news and further details come in. Stay tuned and check this page from time to time!

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