Fagradalsfjall is a shield volcano that erupted in Iceland in 2021. You can find it on the Reykjanes Peninsula, close to Keflavik International Airport.
Fagradalsfjall’s much-anticipated eruption began on March 19th around 9.30 PM. Before this, Reykjavik and the Reykjanes Peninsula had undergone several weeks of constant tremors and earthquakes, leading to the assumption that volcanic activity was imminent. Seismographs recorded over 53,000 of these, and though most could not be felt, some reached 5.7 on the Richter scale and caused minor damage to buildings.
Fagradalsfjall was still a stunning location for the eruption to begin, as this volcano had been dormant for 6,000 years, a comparatively long time considering the most recent event on the peninsula 800 years ago.
The rift that initially opened was up to 700 meters long and covered one square kilometer. Thankfully, however, Fagradalsfjall is located in a sheltered, uninhabited valley, and though its magma chamber is deep, its lava flow was effusive rather than explosive. As such, it posed no threat to infrastructure and was mainly safe for people to visit.
Despite this, it still released poisonous gases such as sulfur dioxide, which was dangerous for those with respiratory conditions. This was even the case for those living in the surrounding area if the winds were unfavorable.
Though many of Iceland’s volcanoes pose a threat to air travel, Fagradalsfjall did not. It was not large enough, nor was there a glacier over it, which would have increased the ash as happened at Eyjafjallajokull in 2010.
Fagradalsfjall is a large shield volcano, the tallest peak of which stands at 385 meters. Though it is uninhabited, its appealing landscapes were appreciated by early Icelanders, as its name translates to ‘beautiful valley mountain.’ The area surrounding it is named Geldingadalur.
The closest roads to Fagradalsfjall are Route 43 and 427, accessible throughout the year; Route 43 is notable for being home to the most famous feature of the Reykjanes Peninsula, the Blue Lagoon. The historic town of Grindavik is just seven kilometers away, and from here, it is possible to access tours, like this 5-Hour Trip to Fagradalsfjall Volcano, where you can safely visit the new lava.