Learn everything you need to know about the 2023 Litli-Hrutur volcano eruption in Iceland! How big is the eruption site? Is it safe to visit the volcano site now? What is the best way to see the eruption site? Was the eruption dangerous? How long did it last? In this article, you'll find out everything you want to know about the latest eruption in Iceland!
On July 10th, a volcanic eruption began by the mountain Litli-Hrutur on the Reykjanes Peninsula just before 5 pm. The people of Iceland had been expecting this, as they had experienced many earthquakes in the days leading up to the eruption.
With a fissure reaching half a mile (900 meters) long, the new eruption was more powerful than the eruption in Fagradalsfjall Volcano in 2021 as well as the second eruption in 2022. Fortunately, residents and infrastructure in the area were not in any danger.
The eruption is over - at least for now. It lasted for just under a month before being declared finished by authorities on August 5th. According to experts, there is a chance that the volcano might erupt again. If and when that happens, make sure to take a look at some of the fantastic volcano tours available to find what suits you best.
The recent eruptions in the area garnered Iceland international attention as people flocked to the country to see them. The location and scope of the eruptions were very tourist friendly, as they were close to Keflavik International Airport and the capital of Reykjavik, and were made widely accessible thanks to new hiking trails.
But how did the eruption at Litli-Hrutur compare to the previous two? Let's find out!
- Learn more about volcanoes with the Ultimate Guide to Volcanoes in Iceland
Where Was the Litli-Hrutur Volcanic Eruption?
The eruption in Litli-Hrutur was up to ten times bigger than the eruption of Fagradalsfjall Volcano in 2021 and three times bigger than the eruption in 2022. Thousands of people made their way to the eruption site to see the natural powers up close.
Although the eruption by Litli-Hrutur is over, the eruption site is still an interesting place to visit. Litli-Hrutur is located roughly two and a half miles (4 kilometers) northeast of Fagradalsfjall Volcano. The round-trip trek to Litli-Hrutur is a bit longer than to Fagradalsfjall Volcano, or around 12 miles in total (20 kilometers). Visiting the site with a local expert is recommended, such as on an afternoon or evening hike of the Litli-Hrutur Eruption Site.
Since no roads lead directly to the eruption site by Litli-Hrutur, the first step is to get to one of the parking lots where a hiking route to the volcano begins. If you decide to rent a car and go by yourself, the parking areas are marked "P1" or "P2" by nearby road signs and are accessible from Route 427. The parking areas are about a 1-hour drive from Reykjavik. Keep in mind that parking by the roadside is not permitted and that off-road driving in Iceland is illegal.
See the following map for more details.
The trek to Litli-Hrutur is long, so make sure you have sturdy hiking boots with ankle support when you start the hike. The trail is rocky and slippery, with a decent incline. It's important to bring warm layers and a waterproof jacket so you're prepared for anything.
Most of the route will be on a gravelly road with a slight incline. When you are roughly three-fourths of the way there, the gravel road ends, and you will have to walk over mossy rocks.
It is also important to bring plenty of water to drink, as well as high-energy snacks, because there are no amenities available at the eruption site. This also means there are no facilities such as toilets or trash cans, so plan accordingly.
Information about Litli-Hrutur and the Reykjanes Peninsula
Litli-Hrutur translates to "Little Ram" in Icelandic, not to be confused with Stori-Hrutur ("Big Ram"), which can be found nearby. The volcano erupted on the Reykjanes peninsula in the southwest of Iceland—a region known for its raw natural beauty and volcanic landscape.
The Reykjanes peninsula is located on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the area where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet. The region is very volcanically active and full of geothermal heat, as can be seen at sites such as the Krysuvik Geothermal Area.
The Reykjanes region is relatively young, geologically speaking, having been formed by magma rising from the core of the earth over the past seven million years. The Westfjords in the northwest of Iceland are, in comparison, 16 million years old.
The most popular thing to do in Reykjanes is to visit the Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa that remains Iceland's most visited attraction. If you're planning on soaking in the Blue Lagoon as well as visiting the eruption site during your stay in Iceland, a Litli-Hrutur volcano hike and Blue Lagoon day tour is an excellent way of doing both.
If you wish to explore the region, you can learn about its wonders on a number of great Reykjanes tours available.
- See also: 22 Things to Do in Reykjanes Peninsula
Other Volcanoes in Iceland
There are roughly 130 active and inactive volcanoes in Iceland. The main active volcanoes in Iceland run along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge in a curved line from northeast to southwest.
One of the most infamous Icelandic volcanoes is Eyjafjallajokull. Known worldwide for disrupting air travel across Europe when it erupted in 2010, Eyjafjallajokull made a name for itself not only as a disruptor of travel but as being notoriously hard to pronounce.
Katla is one of Iceland's largest and most active volcanoes, hidden beneath the Myrdalsjokull ice cap. The volcano has had over 20 documented big eruptions in the last millennium, and the next eruption will most likely be a large one.
Another iconic volcano, Hekla, has erupted over 20 times since the country's settlement in 874 AD, earning the moniker "Gateway to Hell" during the Middle Ages. Geologists keep a close watch on Hekla due to its history of unpredictable eruptions.
Fagradalsfjall was Iceland's newest volcano before Litli-Hrutur stole the spotlight. Hundreds of thousands of people visited the volcano, which was very tourist friendly and brought attention to the spectacular forces of nature present in Iceland.
Will Litli-Hrutur Erupt Again?
As of right now, there is no definite answer to the question of whether or not Litli-Hrutur will erupt again. With three eruptions between 2021-2023, it is safe to say that there is a lot of volcanic activity in the Reykjanes area. If and when another eruption begins in the area, it is impossible to say if it will be by Litli-Hrutur or somewhere else.
This article will be updated as the eruption continues to unfold. Do you have any more questions about the eruption at Litli-Hrutur? Let us know in the comments below, and we'll do our best to answer them!
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