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reykjanes eruption 2023

Reykjanes Eruption in 2023

At around 4:40 PM on July 10, an eruption began at Litli Hrútur, a hillside on the Reykjanes peninsula located between Mt. Keilir and Fagradalsfjall. It is estimated that the fissure is about a kilometre long and growing quickly.

iceland eruption 2023
A map of the eruption site – Met Office Iceland

The eruption has been called “tourist-” and “human-friendly,” so there is no immediate danger to people, infrastructure, and so on. That being said, it’s still a quickly developing situation and the authorities have requested all to stay away from the eruption. Just like the previous two eruptions, it will take some time before serviceable hiking trails can be made, and for first responders to set up a safe viewing area.

Although it’s a “safe” eruption, it is likely that the gas emissions will reach Reykjanesbær, Voga, Vatnsleysa, and the capital area. So if you are sensitive to air quality, the following days may be a good time to find some indoor activities.

Update July 11: A hiking trail has been established to a safe viewing area of the eruption. Note that the hike is 20km [12 mi] round trip!

Update July 12: Meteorologists at the Met Office predict favourable conditions for viewing the eruption today. A stiff breeze and clear skies mean good visibility, and that the gases won’t settle in valleys.

The eruption site has already seen numerous visitors, as we’re sure you already know from social media! Be sure to stay safe out there, and to stay off of fresh lava. What might look like hard rock is often just a thin layer that hides still-hot lava.

That being said, it is possible to safely visit the eruption site, as long as you stay on the marked hiking trail. Above is a helpful map that has the current parking situation, the viewing area, and several other important places marked.

Update July 13: The eruption site will be closed from Thursday to Saturday as the authorities assess the situation. Reasons for the site closure include significant gas pollution and wildfires caused by the lava. According to media reports, the air quality at this eruption has been much worse than the 2021 Geldingadalir and the 2022 Meradalir eruptions. Some people choose to bring gas masks, which can be a good idea, but it’s worth noting that you need something more substantial than a simple N95 or other medical mask.

We’d also like to point out that, unfortunately, we’ve seen some very foolish behaviour at the eruption site over the last couple of days, including individuals walking over still-fresh lava, and even approaching the volcanic crater itself. We hope it’s obvious that this is not a good idea. Icelandic authorities have also that saving hikers on the fresh lava would be a “near impossibility.”

reykjanes eruption 2023
What not to do!

Before you visit the site, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • It’s still possible for new fissures and eruption sites to open. Be careful and be aware of your surroundings. In the past years we’ve seen many people picnicking and drinking near the eruptions – not the best idea!
  • Prolonged exposure to volcanic gases can be toxic. Be conscious of the wind direction, and stay elevated.
  • The eruption grew from a small fissure to over a kilometre within hours. Lava can move more quickly than you think!
  • The hike out to the eruption is quite long. The current trail, both ways, is nearly a half marathon!
  • As with any hike, bring good boots, wind- and water-proof layers, water, food, and navigation.
  • Active volcanoes are not good places for children and animals!

Some useful volcano resources

It will likely be possible to visit the volcano in the coming weeks, so here are some helpful resources for the geology nerds out there!

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