Iceland’s Erupting Volcano: Rivers of Lava and 30,000 Earthquakes

New craters and vents are opening in Iceland’s long-dormant volcano almost every day. And all this is happening just 30km from Reykjavik.

For the first time in 6,000 years, volcanic activity in Geldingadalir, Iceland has suddenly given us an unforgettable display of power, as new land forms before our eyes.

Lava flows from newly formed craters

The Geldingadalir Valley, March 2021 — or is it Mordor? Photo: Shutterstock


Rumblings and signs of activity began in February, with fissures suddenly appearing. In early March, tectonic movement and increased pressures seeking relief from below produced an eight-kilometre magma-filled dyke along the surface.

This was not the end of it. As of now, over 30,000 (!) earthquakes have occurred. This “indicates magma moving 12 to 23km below the earth’s surface, at the boundary of the crust and mantle,” geophysicist and Icelandic Member of Parliament Ari Trausti Gudmundsson told ExplorersWeb.

Iceland has long been known as the Land of Fire and Ice, but this part of the island had long laid dormant. Now, an ever-evolving network of new routes has formed to allow the magma to escape.

New craters almost every day

Three new craters formed on April 4, 5, and 10. On April 13, another four craters appeared. On April 16, five fissures opened up around the dyke, along with several vents. And on April 18, seven more craters and more new vents formed and continuously spewed lava discharge of primitive olivine-tholeiite basalt. As a result, a lava river is flowing southward through the Geldingadalir Valley.

Gudmundsson describes this eruption as quiet, fountain-like, and of no danger to the closest settlements. Vulcanologists say that the eruptions may continue for months, adding to the already high levels of natural airborne pollution. Yet this has not deterred hundreds of visitors from witnessing a new chapter in Iceland’s geological story.

The Reykjanes Peninsula, on which all this action is taking place, serves as a kind of tectonic “bridge between the continents”. Iceland itself formed from the diverging North American and Eurasian Plates and perches atop the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

Amazing drone footage

Some local videographers have captured international attention by flying their drones almost into the raging belly of the beast, giving intimate closeups of the convulsive forces of the earth. Below, one example.