Lulls and, suddenly, huge lava geysers that can reach hundreds of meters in height: a volcanic eruption has occurred for more than 50 days near Reykjavik, offering a new spectacle, visible even from the Icelandic capital.
Although a security perimeter has been enacted to protect the curious from the huge fragments of falling hot rocks, many people walk near the volcano in the Geldingadalir valley, near Mount Fagradalsfjall, 40 km from Reykjavik.
“It’s amazing to see that,” says Henrike Wappler, a German who lives in Iceland. “I feel very small in the face of the power of the Earth, but I am not afraid.”
A roar warns that the explosion is imminent in this uninhabited area of the Reikyan Peninsula in the far southwest of Iceland.
“It looks like a plane in the sky,” said Freija, the daughter of Wappler, one of more than 2,500 people who approached the area on Saturday. “It’s not every day that you can admire a volcano from so close. It’s something really incredible and magnificent,” she comments, sitting 500 meters from the crater.
Bright orange geysers light up the sky and can be seen tens of kilometers away, with the nights getting shorter and shorter in May.
The National Meteorological Office said one of the most intense lava jets observed exceeded 460 meters in height on Wednesday morning (5).
Biarki Brinjarsson, 25, enjoys a game of hide and seek, in which the crater is dark for several minutes with no apparent signs of activity, before the lava rises. “I’m waiting for the bomb to explode,” he said.
This cycling activity is eerily similar to that of Strokkur, Iceland’s most active water geyser, located 100 km east of Reykjavik.
In reality, “magma is flowing all the time, there is only modulation at the surface”, explains volcanologist Magnús Tumi Gudmundsson. “This is normal behavior. In fact, it is less common to have a continuous flow, without intermittence,” he adds.
The lava jets cause a shower of solid rock fragments, some still hot and potentially fatal, which fall several hundred meters from the crater.
Therefore, a permanent isolation perimeter was established with a radius of 400 meters around the active crater. It can be extended up to 650 meters depending on the wind.
This eruption, which began on the night of March 19, is exceptional in several respects: more than eight centuries have passed since the last lava flow on the Reikianes peninsula and almost 6,000 years ago the eruption.
As a result of several cracks, many small craters have formed successively in Geldingadalir, only one of which is actually active.
Vulcanologists do not exclude any hypothesis on its duration, which can be a few months or even several decades.