Fagradalsfjall is a shield volcano that erupted in Iceland in March of 2021 and again in August 2022. You can find it on the Reykjanes peninsula, close to Keflavik International Airport.
Fagradalsfjall’s 2022 Eruption
Fagradalsfjall volcano erupted again on August 3rd, and the eruption lasted for three weeks. The eruption is located in Meradalir valley on the Reykjanes peninsula, about 1 kilometer from the eruption in 2021. The rift zone of the eruption is over 300 meters long, and 20-50 square meters of lava spewed out every second during the start of the eruption, according to the Icelandic Meteorological Office.
Prior to the eruption, there had been high tectonic activity on the Reykjanes peninsula, including multiple earthquakes which could be felt in Reykjavik. Fresh lava finally reached the surface on August 3rd for the first time since the last eruption ended in September 2021. Fortunately, the eruption did not create ashfalls like Eyjafjallajokull volcano in 2010, so it did not disrupt air travel.
In a land of natural wonders, a volcanic eruption creates some incredible landscapes with its black solidified lava. If you are currently in Iceland, don't hesitate to make the most of this opportunity and book a guided tour to see the eruption area up close. Reaching the volcano is an adventure, so expect to hike for at least an hour and make sure to wear good hiking shoes and warm clothes. If you prefer not to walk, we recommend booking a helicopter tour of the volcano site, allowing you to explore Meradalir valley from above.
Fagradalsfjall’s 2021 Eruption
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, a sign 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 a stunning location for the eruption to begin, as this volcano had been dormant for 6,000 years, a comparatively long time even for this peninsula, which hasn't seen volcanic activity for 800 years.
The initial rift was 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.
Geography of Fagradalsfjall
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, who named it "beautiful valley mountain." The surrounding valley 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 is known for its fishing industry.