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Eyjafjallajökull has been an internationally renowned landmark ever since it erupted in 2010, stopping all air traffic with its gigantic ash plume. Explore the area’s glacier and volcanic terrain, connected to the famous Katla Volcano. Go hiking, camping, and more with a visit to Eyjafjallajökull, one of Iceland’s most popular destinations!

Eyjafjallajökull is one of the few stratovolcanoes, or composite volcanoes, found in Iceland. This means that it is a conical volcano consisting of many layers of hardened volcanic material such as pumice, tephra and hardened lava. There is an ice cap that covers the caldera of the volcano – meaning that the glacier has the ability to erupt! Most of us know the name Eyjafjallajökull for exactly this reason.

 

Eyjafjallajökull Volcano Time Lapse

 

Back in 2010, Eyjafjallajökull famously erupted, causing chaos all over the world. The billowing ash clouds spread as far as Europe and air travel was grounded for 5 days. The eruption in Eyjafjallajökull in 2010 was extraordinary and one would have to search quite far back to find a comparison.

The eruption has been compared to the eruptions of the great Katla Volcano which last went off in the year 1918, so as you can see, you have to go back almost a century to find a comparison to the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull.

TOURS VISITING EYJAFJALLAJÖKULL

WHAT TYPE OF VOLCANO IS EYJAFJALLAJÖKULL?

Eyjafjallajökull is a stratovolcano and its veins follow an East-West direction. It is made up of basalt and andesite lavas.

Most of Eyjafjallajökull’s historical eruptions have been known to be quite explosive as the volcano is fed by a magma chamber that rests under the mountain.

scenery of Island's Eyjafjallajokull volcano in summer

The magma chamber is derived from the continental plate meeting of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Eyjafjallajökull is, therefore, a part of a volcano chain that stretches across Iceland.

Its nearest and best-known volcano neighbor is Katla, which Eyjafjallajökull is thought to be somehow more connected to than other volcanoes, as its eruptions have generally been followed by eruptions of Katla. Eyjafjallajökull erupted in the years 920 and 1612.

WHY DID EYJAFJALLAJÖKULL ERUPT IN 2010?

A lot of activity occurred in Eyjafjallajökull at the beginning of the year 2010. In the wake of heavy landslides and earthquake activity, there was a small effusive eruption in the northern part of Fimmvörðuháls. That eruption started on the 20th of March and lasted 23 days.

Then, the eruption took a break for two and a half days, before starting again on the 14th of April on the summit top of Eyjafjallajökull Volcano itself. Within the first days, the glacier had melted substantially. Along with the eruption came clouds of ash which reached all the way to central Europe.

smoke over Eyjafjallajokull volcano during eruption

The eruption in Eyjafjallajökull can be split into four sections:

1. The 14th to the 18th of April

Rich eruptions and quite a lot of explosion activity where water was able to reach the magma and shred it even more. The famous Iceland volcano eruption effects were characterized by a lot of ash plumes with finer chemicals. 

2. The 18th of April to the 4th of May

A combination of an explosive eruption and flowing lava went on. The explosiveness was little compared to the days before and the effect of water was limited. Earthquakes were frequent and less magma was reaching the surface.

3. The 5th of May to the 17th of May

The eruption started to cool down, eruptions were happening less frequently and no new lava was flowing.

4. The 18th of May to the 22nd of May

Decreased stream of magma and the smoke coming from the eruption was getting a lot smaller. The eruption ended on the night of the 22nd of May.

lava of Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland

During the eruption, almost all air traffic was canceled for the next 5 days, more than 100,000 flights. The second eruption, the real Eyjafjallajökull eruption lasted 39 days. It started up again a few weeks later in June but the activity was very limited.

What does the Eyjafjallajökull name mean?

Eyja means Islands.

Fjalla means Mountains.

Jökull means Glacier.

Put together you will have island-mountain-glacier, Eyjafjallajökull.

The land going from Eyjafjallajökull to the sea is often named Landeyjar (where the name of the ferry dock Landeyjarhöfn comes from.).The reason for this name is that after one of the stratovolcano eruptions occurred, glacier runs covered the land, leaving nothing but water and islands of land. People would sail in between the newly formed islands and this is where the location’s descriptive name originates.

Eyjafjallajökull is, therefore, the mountain glacier above the islands. Discover more interesting facts about Eyjafjallajökull.

HOW IS EYJAFJALLAJÖKULL PRONOUNCED?

Now, that’s a tricky one! The name Eyjafjallajökull didn’t seem difficult to pronounce until we, Icelanders, started to have to talk about it to other non-Icelandic speaking humans. Then things really started to get complicated!

Here are videos on how NOT to pronounce Eyjafjallajökull:

and HOW TO pronounce Eyjafjallajökull:

Icelandic Life: Q&A Session With Arctic Adventures Guides

How to get to Eyjafjallajökull?

Eyjafjallajökull is located in the middle of the South of Iceland, between Skógafoss and Mýrdalsjökull in the Eyjafjöll mountains. It is surrounded by mountains like Stóra-Dímona and Þríhyrningur.

The main outlet glaciers from Eyjafjallajökull are Gígjökull and Steinholtsjökull. Gígjökull plunges down the hills near Þórsmörk Valley but Steinholtjökull sits higher in the highlands and is lesser known to the general public. 

The GPS coordinates of Eyjafjallajökull are: 63.6314° N, 19.6083° W

 

CAN YOU HIKE THE EYJAFJALLAJÖKULL ERUPTION SITE?

There are two options to hike the Eyjafjallajökull eruption site of 2010.

Fimmvorduhals hiking trail in the mountains

1. Fimmvörðuháls Trail

The first and most popular is the Fimmvörðuháls trail.

This trail can be completed in one day or two days, depending mainly on if you wish to stay the night. The day tour is often nicknamed The Þórsmörk Volcano hike and starts in Reykjavík going from Þórsmörk Valley up to the Fimmvörðuháls, to visit the newly formed craters Magni and Móði and back down, it is about 14 km.

The 2-day version of the Fimmvörðuháls hike starts in Reykjavík but takes you from Skógar the famous home to Skógafoss waterfall and through the highlands, over Fimmvörðuháls and into Þórsmörk valley where you stay the night and get to enjoy its hiking trails in the morning.

2. Hiking Eyjafjallajökull Glacier

The second option is hiking the actual Eyjafjallajökull Glacier. This was a pretty popular trail before the eruption but since the glacier shrunk quite a bit during the eruption, the trail has gotten less attention. This trek is considered challenging and should only be done by experienced hikers with a guide.

group hiking on Eyjafjallajokull glacier in Iceland

WHAT OTHER VOLCANOES ARE CLOSE TO EYJAFJALLAJÖKULL?

Iceland is often nicknamed the land of ice and fire, the fire being from the volcanic activity found across the country. Many don’t know this but when Eyjafjallajökull volcano started erupting in 2010, Icelanders were just as surprised as the rest of the world.

The closest volcanoes you can find near Eyjafjallajökull Volcano are Katla Stratovolcano and Hekla Mountain Volcano.

Katla Volcano

view of Katla volcano in Iceland

Katla volcano, Iceland

The robust Katla is a stratovolcano, just like Eyjafjallajökull. The last eruption was in the year 1918 causing colossal flooding which increased the land by two kilometers (1,2 mi)., The sea has since worn much of the new land away.

Katla is located in an outlet glacier from the amazing Mýrdalsjökull Glacier named Kötlujökull after the massive volcano. In recent years the area around Katla, the Hjörleifshöfði Cape, has been used to film Hollywood movies such as Rogue One: A Star Wars Story as the area has an incredibly stellar look to it, often described as moon-like.

Many believe Katla will be the next volcano to erupt, an event that may cause flooding down the south shore. The meltwater from a glacier most commonly increases at an alarming rate when a volcano starts to erupt right under the thick ice.

The volcano is being monitored daily and the eruption will not catch anyone off guard so there is no need to be afraid. The areas in danger will be evacuated keeping visitors out of harm’s way.

Hekla Volcano

The powerful and active Hekla Volcano, which used to be nicknamed “the gateway to hell” was once the most famous volcano in Iceland. It remains one of the best-known volcanoes in the world but was outshined by Eyjafjallajökull after its eruption in 2010.

The volcano has been active for thousands of years, the first recorded volcanic eruption in the year 1104 and the latest one in 2000. Hekla sits on a ridge with a four-kilometer (2,4 mi) long crack along the top which, in folklore tales, was said to be a place for lost souls to enter hell!

The potent volcano can be seen from afar as it rises a tall 1,491 meters (4891,7 ft) up from the flat terrain surrounding it.  There is a good chance you will spot it when exploring the South Coast.

scenery of Hekla volcano in Iceland

MOVIES & TV SHOWS FILMED AT EYJAFJALLAJÖKULL

Some of the more famous shows and movies to be filmed at Eyjafjallajökull include

  • Top Gear (2010) – James May drove a Toyota Hilux up the volcano in a 2010 episode of Top Gear. He reached the top mere hours before the eruption happened, although May and the camera crew had left the volcano by the time the eruption started.
  • The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)

ACCOMMODATION OR HOTELS NEAR EYJAFJALLAJÖKULL

Skalakot hotel double room view

Planning a trip to Eyjafjallajökull Volcano? An overnight stay or 2 in the area is very popular. Here are some of the accommodation options available:

Hotels

  • Stóra-Mörk
  • Skálakot Manor Hotel
  • Hotel Anna
  • Hotel Skogar
  • Hotel Skogafoss
  • Hotel Selja

Hostels

  • Nicehostel Seljaland

Guesthouses

  • Holt Guesthouse
  • Skógar Guesthouse
  • South Iceland Guesthouse
  • Guesthouse Rauðafell
  • Guesthouse Drangshlid
  • Kvíahólmi Apartments
  • DalsSel Guesthouse

Cabins and Cottages

  • Volcano Huts inside Þórsmörk Valley
  • Ásólfsskáli Cottage
  • The Garage
  • Stóra-Mörk III

CAMPING NEAR EYJAFJALLAJÖKULL

Thorsmork campsite in Iceland

Þórsmörk Slyppugil: A fantastic and tranquil campsite open from June to September with great facilities. A start and end to many of Thorsmork’s best hiking trails.

Price: 1300 ISK per adult per night + 500 ISK for a shower.

Hamragarðar camping ground: Located just 2 km off the Ring Road 1, Hamragarðar camping ground is within walking distance of Gljúfrabúi and Seljalandsfoss waterfalls. It is open all year round.

Price: 3200 ISK per adult per night including the shower.

Skógar: The camping site of Skógarfoss Waterfall and the historical Skógar. The facilities are open all year round.

Price: 1500 ISK per adult per night + 400 ISK for a shower.

INTERESTING PLACES NEAR EYJAFJALLAJÖKULL

Eyjafjallajökull Volcano is surrounded by fascinating experiences and Icelandic attractions such as:

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes. A composite volcano is just another word for stratovolcano. This means that the volcano is made up of layers of ash, lava, and solid stone. 

As far as eruptions go, the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption was relatively explosive! Most volcanoes don’t fall neatly into one category but instead lie somewhere along the spectrum. In silent eruptions, only a thin stream of lava spills out of the volcano. In more explosive eruptions, the blast is greater and produces more lava and ash. 

The enormous ash cloud was produced by the meeting of upwelling magma with cold glacial waters. The dramatic contrast between cold and hot created more ash. 

Eyjafjallajökull is a somewhat active volcano. That means that although it erupts, those eruptions only happen every few centuries. In comparison, the nearby Katla Volcano erupts at least once a century!

Eyjafjallajökull is an active volcano, meaning it’s still geothermally active and can erupt again in the future. However, this eruption is not likely to occur for a long time.

Scientists aren’t completely sure. However, they mostly believe that the violent eruption was caused when two different types of magma met under the volcano’s surface.

Eyjafjallajökull has erupted three times in recorded history: in 920, 1610, and 2010. Much smaller eruptions occurred in the interim, but they had essentially no impact. 

The eruption most famously brought a stop to air traffic over Iceland and Northern Europe. You can still see the effects of the eruption in the surrounding areas, including layers of ash and newly formed craters. The Eyjafjallajökull eruption did not harm life in Iceland.