Sightseers climb to the edge of erupting Iceland volcano as lava cascades down mountainside

Tourists have rushed to the edge of the active volcano in Iceland which is spewing out molten lava after it erupted for the first time in 6,000 years this week.

Crowds gathered around Fagradalsfjall, a mountain on the Reykjanes Peninsula, on Sunday to watch the incredible natural phenomenon.

Streams of red lava bubbled and flowed out of a fissure in a valley in Geldingadalur on the southwest of the island in the rare sight.

Tourists have rushed to the edge of the active volcano in Iceland which is spewing out molten lava after it erupted for the first time in 6,000 years this week

Tourists have rushed to the edge of the active volcano in Iceland which is spewing out molten lava after it erupted for the first time in 6,000 years this week

Tourists have rushed to the edge of the active volcano in Iceland which is spewing out molten lava after it erupted for the first time in 6,000 years this week

Crowds gathered around near Fagradalsfjall, a mountain on the Reykjanes Peninsula, on Sunday to watch the incredible natural phenomenon

Crowds gathered around near Fagradalsfjall, a mountain on the Reykjanes Peninsula, on Sunday to watch the incredible natural phenomenon

Crowds gathered around near Fagradalsfjall, a mountain on the Reykjanes Peninsula, on Sunday to watch the incredible natural phenomenon

Streams of red lava bubbled and flowed out of a fissure in a valley in Geldingadalur on the southwest of the island in the rare sight

Streams of red lava bubbled and flowed out of a fissure in a valley in Geldingadalur on the southwest of the island in the rare sight

Streams of red lava bubbled and flowed out of a fissure in a valley in Geldingadalur on the southwest of the island in the rare sight

The last eruption in the surrounding area took place 900 years ago and the public have been warned to stay away

The last eruption in the surrounding area took place 900 years ago and the public have been warned to stay away

The last eruption in the surrounding area took place 900 years ago and the public have been warned to stay away

The eruption occurred on Friday around 8.45pm GMT, lighting up the night sky with a crimson glow as hundreds of small earthquakes shook the area. 

The last eruption in the surrounding area took place 900 years ago and the public have been warned to stay away.

But many ignored the advice, climbing to get a front row seat for the awesome natural display.

As the lava flow slowed under rain showers on Saturday, a blue gas plume and a vapour cloud rose from the site, just 25 miles from the capital and near a popular tourist destination, the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa. 

‘The eruption is considered small at this stage and the volcanic activity has somewhat decreased since yesterday evening,’ the Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO), which monitors seismic activity, said in a statement on Saturday.

It said the ‘eruptive fissure’ measured approximately 1,640 to 2,300 feet. 

The eruption occurred on Friday around 8.45pm GMT, lighting up the night sky with a crimson glow as hundreds of small earthquakes shook the area

The eruption occurred on Friday around 8.45pm GMT, lighting up the night sky with a crimson glow as hundreds of small earthquakes shook the area

The eruption occurred on Friday around 8.45pm GMT, lighting up the night sky with a crimson glow as hundreds of small earthquakes shook the area

A view of the volcano eruption in Geldingadalur on the Reykjanes peninsula in Iceland on Sunday

A view of the volcano eruption in Geldingadalur on the Reykjanes peninsula in Iceland on Sunday

A view of the volcano eruption in Geldingadalur on the Reykjanes peninsula in Iceland on Sunday 

Many ignored the advice to stay clear of the volcano and the gases it is emiting as they climbed to get a front row seat for the awesome natural display.

Many ignored the advice to stay clear of the volcano and the gases it is emiting as they climbed to get a front row seat for the awesome natural display.

Many ignored the advice to stay clear of the volcano and the gases it is emiting as they climbed to get a front row seat for the awesome natural display.

Lava flows from the erupting Fagradalsfjall volcano some 25 miles west of the Icelandic capital Reykjavik

Lava flows from the erupting Fagradalsfjall volcano some 25 miles west of the Icelandic capital Reykjavik

Lava flows from the erupting Fagradalsfjall volcano some 25 miles west of the Icelandic capital Reykjavik

As the lava flow slowed under rain showers on Saturday, a blue gas plume and a vapour cloud rose from the site

As the lava flow slowed under rain showers on Saturday, a blue gas plume and a vapour cloud rose from the site

As the lava flow slowed under rain showers on Saturday, a blue gas plume and a vapour cloud rose from the site

Speaking to reporters, University of Iceland geophysicist Magnus Tumi Gudmundsson described the valley as an ‘ideal’ spot for the eruption, likening it to ‘a bathtub the lava can slowly leak into.’

IMO earthquake hazards coordinator Kristin Jonsdottir meanwhile said it was ‘very likely the eruption will last for the next few days’.

Friday’s eruption took place in the Krysuvik volcanic system, which does not have a central volcano, about three miles inland from the southern coast.

Sigurdur Kristmundsson, a 54-year-old Grindavik port official, told AFP that locals were exhilarated by the eruption.

‘Nobody is in danger or anything like that. So I think people are excited and not afraid of it.’ 

Sunday hikers look at the lava flowing from the erupting Fagradalsfjall volcano as they climbed towards the active site

Sunday hikers look at the lava flowing from the erupting Fagradalsfjall volcano as they climbed towards the active site

Sunday hikers look at the lava flowing from the erupting Fagradalsfjall volcano as they climbed towards the active site

Friday\'s eruption took place in the Krysuvik volcanic system, which does not have a central volcano, about three miles inland from the southern coast

Friday\'s eruption took place in the Krysuvik volcanic system, which does not have a central volcano, about three miles inland from the southern coast

Friday’s eruption took place in the Krysuvik volcanic system, which does not have a central volcano, about three miles inland from the southern coast

Earthquake hazards coordinator Kristin Jonsdottir said it was \'very likely the eruption will last for the next few days\'

Earthquake hazards coordinator Kristin Jonsdottir said it was \'very likely the eruption will last for the next few days\'

Earthquake hazards coordinator Kristin Jonsdottir said it was ‘very likely the eruption will last for the next few days’

Sigurdur Kristmundsson, a 54-year-old Grindavik port official, told AFP that locals were exhilarated by the eruption

Sigurdur Kristmundsson, a 54-year-old Grindavik port official, told AFP that locals were exhilarated by the eruption

Sigurdur Kristmundsson, a 54-year-old Grindavik port official, told AFP that locals were exhilarated by the eruption

Gases from a volcanic eruption - especially sulphur dioxide - can be elevated in the immediate vicinity, and may pose a danger to health and even be fatal

Gases from a volcanic eruption - especially sulphur dioxide - can be elevated in the immediate vicinity, and may pose a danger to health and even be fatal

Gases from a volcanic eruption – especially sulphur dioxide – can be elevated in the immediate vicinity, and may pose a danger to health and even be fatal

The Krysuvik system has been inactive for the past 900 years, according to the IMO, while the last eruption on the Reykjanes peninsula dates back almost 800 years and lasted about 30 years, from 1210 to 1240

The Krysuvik system has been inactive for the past 900 years, according to the IMO, while the last eruption on the Reykjanes peninsula dates back almost 800 years and lasted about 30 years, from 1210 to 1240

The Krysuvik system has been inactive for the past 900 years, according to the IMO, while the last eruption on the Reykjanes peninsula dates back almost 800 years and lasted about 30 years, from 1210 to 1240

Access to the area was initially blocked off but later reopened, though Iceland’s Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management stressed the several-hour hike from the nearest road was only recommended for those ‘used to being outdoors in difficult conditions.’

Gases from a volcanic eruption – especially sulphur dioxide – can be elevated in the immediate vicinity, and may pose a danger to health and even be fatal.

Gas pollution can also be carried by the wind.

‘Currently gas pollution is not expected to cause much discomfort for people except close up to the source of the eruption. The gas emissions will be monitored closely,’ the IMO said.

The Krysuvik system has been inactive for the past 900 years, according to the IMO, while the last eruption on the Reykjanes peninsula dates back almost 800 years and lasted about 30 years, from 1210 to 1240.

Iceland\'s Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management stressed the several-hour hike from the nearest road was only recommended for those \'used to being outdoors in difficult conditions\'

Iceland\'s Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management stressed the several-hour hike from the nearest road was only recommended for those \'used to being outdoors in difficult conditions\'

Iceland’s Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management stressed the several-hour hike from the nearest road was only recommended for those ‘used to being outdoors in difficult conditions’

The region had been under increased surveillance for several weeks after a 5.7-magnitude earthquake was registered on February 24 near Mount Keilir on the outskirts of Reykjavik

The region had been under increased surveillance for several weeks after a 5.7-magnitude earthquake was registered on February 24 near Mount Keilir on the outskirts of Reykjavik

The region had been under increased surveillance for several weeks after a 5.7-magnitude earthquake was registered on February 24 near Mount Keilir on the outskirts of Reykjavik

Geophysicist Gudmundsson said the eruption signalled a new period \'which may last centuries with eruptions, possibly 10 years to 100 years apart\'

Geophysicist Gudmundsson said the eruption signalled a new period \'which may last centuries with eruptions, possibly 10 years to 100 years apart\'

Geophysicist Gudmundsson said the eruption signalled a new period ‘which may last centuries with eruptions, possibly 10 years to 100 years apart’

Iceland has 32 volcanic systems currently considered active, the highest number in Europe. The country has had an eruption every five years on average

Iceland has 32 volcanic systems currently considered active, the highest number in Europe. The country has had an eruption every five years on average

Iceland has 32 volcanic systems currently considered active, the highest number in Europe. The country has had an eruption every five years on average

Weekend hikers took the opportunity on Sunday to inspect the area where a volcano erupted in Iceland on Friday

Weekend hikers took the opportunity on Sunday to inspect the area where a volcano erupted in Iceland on Friday

Weekend hikers took the opportunity on Sunday to inspect the area where a volcano erupted in Iceland on Friday

But the region had been under increased surveillance for several weeks after a 5.7-magnitude earthquake was registered on February 24 near Mount Keilir on the outskirts of Reykjavik.

Since then more than 50,000 smaller tremors had been registered, and magma was detected just one kilometre under the Earth’s surface in recent days near Fagradalsfjall.

Geophysicist Gudmundsson said the eruption signalled a new period ‘which may last centuries with eruptions, possibly 10 years to 100 years apart.’ 

Iceland has 32 volcanic systems currently considered active, the highest number in Europe. The country has had an eruption every five years on average.

The vast island near the Arctic Circle straddles the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a crack on the ocean floor separating the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates

The vast island near the Arctic Circle straddles the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a crack on the ocean floor separating the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates

The vast island near the Arctic Circle straddles the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a crack on the ocean floor separating the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates

The most recent eruption was at Holuhraun, beginning in August 2014 and ending in February 2015, in the Bardarbunga volcanic system in an uninhabited area in the centre of the island

The most recent eruption was at Holuhraun, beginning in August 2014 and ending in February 2015, in the Bardarbunga volcanic system in an uninhabited area in the centre of the island

The most recent eruption was at Holuhraun, beginning in August 2014 and ending in February 2015, in the Bardarbunga volcanic system in an uninhabited area in the centre of the island

The vast island near the Arctic Circle straddles the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a crack on the ocean floor separating the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates.

The shifting of these plates is in part responsible for Iceland’s intense volcanic activity.

The most recent eruption was at Holuhraun, beginning in August 2014 and ending in February 2015, in the Bardarbunga volcanic system in an uninhabited area in the centre of the island.

That eruption did not cause any major disruptions outside the immediate vicinity.

But in 2010, an eruption at the Eyjafjallajokull volcano sent huge clouds of smoke and ash into the atmosphere, disrupting air traffic for more than a week and cancelling more than 100,000 flights worldwide, which left some 10 million passengers stranded.

The land of fire and ice: Iceland’s thousands of years of volcanic history

Due to Iceland’s location on the Mid-Atlantic ridge, a divergent tectonic plate boundary, and its location over a hot spot, the northern Nordic island country has a high-concentration of active volcanoes. 

Known as the land of fire and ice, the island currently has 32 active volcanic systems, 13 of which have seen eruptions since the settlement of Iceland in AD 874. The most active system is  Grímsvötn.

Iceland is Europe’s biggest and most active volcanic region, home to a third of the lava that has flowed on Earth over the past 5,000 years – since the Middle Ages, according to Visit Iceland. 

The vast North Atlantic island borders the Arctic Circle where it straddles the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a crack on the ocean floor separating the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. The shifting of these plates is in part responsible for Iceland’s intense volcanic activity. 

Despite being located in the far north near the arctic circle, Iceland’s volcanoes can have far-reaching consequences for the rest of the globe.  in 2010, an eruption at the Eyjafjallajokull volcano sent huge clouds of smoke and ash into the atmosphere, causing the biggest air traffic disruption in peacetime until the Covid-19 pandemic.

The disruption lasted for more than a week with the cancellation of more than 100,000 flights worldwide and leaving some 10 million passengers stranded.

Pictured:\u00A0The Northern Lights are seen above the ash plume of a volcano in Eyjafjallajokull, Iceland, April 22, 2010

Pictured:\u00A0The Northern Lights are seen above the ash plume of a volcano in Eyjafjallajokull, Iceland, April 22, 2010

Pictured: The Northern Lights are seen above the ash plume of a volcano in Eyjafjallajokull, Iceland, April 22, 2010

934 

The eruption of Eldgja – which means ‘canyon of fire’ in Icelandic – is the biggest basalt lava eruption the world has ever seen. Part of the same volcanic system as the mighty Katla volcano, the Eldgja fissure is 75 kilometres long, stretching to the western edge of Vatnajokull. The eruption led to two large lava fields covering 301 square miles.

1783

The eruption of the Laki volcanic fissure in the south of the island is considered by some experts to be the most devastating in Iceland’s history, causing its biggest environmental and socio-economic catastrophe: 50 to 80 percent of Iceland’s livestock was killed, leading to a famine that left a quarter of Iceland’s population dead.

The volume of lava, nearly 15 cubic kilometres (3.6 cubic miles), is the second-biggest recorded on Earth in the past millennium.

The meteorological impact of Laki’s eruptions had repercussions for several years in the Northern Hemisphere, causing a drop in global temperatures and crop failures in Europe as millions of tonnes of sulphur dioxide were released.

Some experts have suggested that the consequences of the eruption may have played a part in triggering the French Revolution, though the issue is still a matter of debate.

The volcano’s 130 still-smoking craters were placed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list in 2019, along with the entire Vatnajokull national park to which it belongs.

Pictured:\u00A0Laki Volcanic cones left behind after its eruption in 1783.\u00A0The volume of lava, nearly 15 cubic kilometres (3.6 cubic miles), is the second-biggest recorded on Earth in the past millennium

Pictured:\u00A0Laki Volcanic cones left behind after its eruption in 1783.\u00A0The volume of lava, nearly 15 cubic kilometres (3.6 cubic miles), is the second-biggest recorded on Earth in the past millennium

Pictured: Laki Volcanic cones left behind after its eruption in 1783. The volume of lava, nearly 15 cubic kilometres (3.6 cubic miles), is the second-biggest recorded on Earth in the past millennium

1875

Virtually unknown at the time, Askja, Iceland’s second-biggest volcano system, erupted in three distinct phases. Two of the three ash clouds rose more than 20 kilometres (12 miles) into the sky. 

The toxic fallout across Iceland, which in some places reached a thickness of 20 centimetres (eight inches), killed livestock, contaminated the soil and sparked a wave of emigration to North America. 

Isolated in a plateau and far from civilisation, Askja is today a popular tourist attraction and its lava fields were used to train astronauts for the 1965 and 1967 Apollo missions.

1918

Considered one of Iceland’s most dangerous volcanoes, Katla’s last eruption added five kilometres of land mass to the country’s southern coast. 

Located under the Myrdalsjokull glacier, when Katla erupts it ejects large quantities of tephra, or solidified magma rock fragments which are disseminated in the air and carried by the powerful glacier flooding caused by melting ice. 

Averaging two eruptions per century, Katla has not erupted violently for more than 100 years and experts say it is overdue. 

Satellite image of Katla Volcano situated in Iceland. Image taken 20 September 2014.\u00A0Considered one of Iceland\'s most dangerous volcanoes, Katla\'s last eruption added five kilometres of land mass to the country\'s southern coast

Satellite image of Katla Volcano situated in Iceland. Image taken 20 September 2014.\u00A0Considered one of Iceland\'s most dangerous volcanoes, Katla\'s last eruption added five kilometres of land mass to the country\'s southern coast

Satellite image of Katla Volcano situated in Iceland. Image taken 20 September 2014. Considered one of Iceland’s most dangerous volcanoes, Katla’s last eruption added five kilometres of land mass to the country’s southern coast

1973

In one of the most dramatic eruptions in the country’s recent history, the island of Heimaey in the Westman Islands awoke one January morning to an eruption in a fissure just 150 metres (yards) from the town centre.

The eruption of the Eldfell volcano occurred not only in a populated area – one of the country’s then most important fishing zones – but it also surprised locals at dawn. A third of homes in the area were destroyed and the 5,300 residents were evacuated. One person died.

2010

2010 In April 2010, enormous plumes of ash billowed into the sky for several weeks during the eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano, causing the biggest air traffic disruption in peacetime until the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Some 100,000 flights were cancelled, leaving more than 10 million travellers stranded. 

Pictured:\u00A0Horse graze as a cloud of volcanic matter rises from the erupting Eyjafjallajokull volcano, April 16, 2010 in Fimmvorduhals, Iceland. A major eruption occurred on April 14, 2010 which resulted in a plume of volcanic ash being thrown into the atmosphere over parts of Northen Europe, disrupting air travel.\u00A0Some 100,000 flights were cancelled, leaving more than 10 million travellers stranded

Pictured:\u00A0Horse graze as a cloud of volcanic matter rises from the erupting Eyjafjallajokull volcano, April 16, 2010 in Fimmvorduhals, Iceland. A major eruption occurred on April 14, 2010 which resulted in a plume of volcanic ash being thrown into the atmosphere over parts of Northen Europe, disrupting air travel.\u00A0Some 100,000 flights were cancelled, leaving more than 10 million travellers stranded

Pictured: Horse graze as a cloud of volcanic matter rises from the erupting Eyjafjallajokull volcano, April 16, 2010 in Fimmvorduhals, Iceland. A major eruption occurred on April 14, 2010 which resulted in a plume of volcanic ash being thrown into the atmosphere over parts of Northen Europe, disrupting air travel. Some 100,000 flights were cancelled, leaving more than 10 million travellers stranded

2011 

The Grimsvotn volcano, also located under the Vatnajokull glacier, is Iceland’s most active volcano. Its latest eruption was in May 2011, its ninth since 1902. 

Over one week, it spouted a cloud of ash 25 kilometres (15 miles) into the sky, causing the cancellation of more than 900 flights, primarily in the UK, Scandinavia and Germany. 

2014 – 2015 

The awakening of Bardarbunga, a volcano located under the Vatnajokull glacier – Europe’s largest ice cap – in the heart of southern Iceland’s uninhabited highlands, was the most recent eruption before Friday’s.

The volcano erupted for five months, both under the ice and breaching the surface in a fissure at the Holuhraun lava field, creating Iceland’s biggest basalt lava flow in more than 230 years but causing no injuries or damages.

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