Written and edited by Natalie Guttormsson
Iceland's newest volcano came to our attention on the evening of Friday, March 19th. After weeks of constant earthquakes, we suddenly had several days of quieter activity. Nearly every other day the scientists explained that an eruption could happen anytime in the next few days, weeks, or even years. It was a tiring wait-and-see scenario. But then it happened, noticed first by residents in Grindavík as the red glow of the lava reflected on the clouds.
Since that moment, social media has been flooded with impressive photos and videos of the eruption, from the early stages when there were 5 openings in the earth spewing lava, to the current twin cones that might soon merge into one more typical looking volcano.
In the beginning, the eruption was given the name Geldingadalsgos or the eruption in the Gelding Valley. As the eruption grows and endures longer, perhaps Iceland will award the volcano a new, distinct name.
RÚV (Iceland's national broadcaster) installed a live camera that allows anyone with an internet or cell phone connection to watch the volcano's activities in real time. It's been amazing to watch the volcano grow and shift on a backdrop of quickly changing Icelandic weather. If you didn't believe how quickly Icelandic weather changes, just watch the live feed for an hour and you'll see first-hand.
Since we have several Icelandic Roots volunteers currently living in Reykjavík, we thought we'd ask them about their impression of the volcano in the first week of its existence:
"I think it's quite exciting, especially being from a place where earthquakes and volcanoes are not on our natural disaster radar. I got used to the earthquakes after a week or two, but felt like anytime I heard a noise an earthquake was happening, which became tiring. That being said, I will definitely not be hiking out there to see it in person." - Erin Jones (Reykjavík / USA)
"I also think the earthquakes were exciting at first, but soon became just became a part of the background. The eruption
was definitely exciting, but I've been shaking my head about how foolishly people are acting around the lava flow. I was glad to hear that they closed the area, even if just temporarily, to keep people safe and away from the eruption." - Mallory Swanson (Reykjavík / USA)
"It was my daughter’s 11th birthday, the day the volcanic eruption began in Fagrafalsfjall. The kids were awed knowing there was an eruption taking place in Iceland. We had only felt a few of the earthquakes leading up to the eruption but what a memorable Icelandic experience for us, coming from Australia. To be present in Iceland for a volcano that hasn’t erupted in 6,000 years is pretty special!" - Elin De Ruyter (Reykjavík / Australia)
"Since I arrived with my family to Reykjavík in August of 2019, we've experienced a large union strike, a global pandemic, the threat of polar bears coming from Greenland after a huge chunk of an ice shelf broke off last year, and then the large earthquake in the fall. At Christmas time I was joking with friends and family that the next thing to happen would be a volcanic eruption. Then, when the quakes began several weeks ago, I thought for sure our luck would be that we'd suffer the earthquakes for months and the volcano would erupt after we left the country. When the news came on Friday evening that the eruption had happened, quietly and without much fanfare, were in awe. We watch the live footage from RÚV every night, marveling at the lava flow glowing in the night. But we're happy to stay home and watch it on TV. I just hope no one who hikes out there gets seriously hurt." - Natalie Guttormsson (Reykjavík / Canada)
If you want to share your stories of the volcano, or volcanic eruptions in the past, leave a comment below or come share your story on our Facebook Page.