Iceland is open for travel: check volcano updates here

If you're planning a trip to Iceland soon, it's safe to visit despite the new volcanic eruption that started on May 29th, 2024. It is located north of Grindavík on Iceland's Reykjanes peninsula. This eruption only affects a small, contained area.

Keep reading to learn more.

VOLCANIC ERUPTION IN ICELAND - Q&A

IS THERE AN ONGOING VOLCANIC ERUPTION IN ICELAND?

Yes, the newest eruption in Iceland at Sundhnúksgígar started on May 29, 2024. The eruption is the eighth on the Reykjanes peninsula in a little over three years and the fifth to occur in just over six months.

Experts are closely monitoring the situation and all precautions are in place. Iceland remains a captivating and safe destination for travelers.

Like the previous eruptions, this one is contained in its surroundings on the Reykjanes Peninsula. This means that the eruption does not impact the airport, the Ring Road, the capital city of Reykjavik, or any other areas of Iceland.

WHERE IS VOLCANO ERUPTION IN ICELAND?

The location of the eruption is north of Grindavík. The eruption is approximately 40 kilometers (25 miles) away from Reykjavík, the capital of Iceland. The location of the newest eruption is the same as the previous one, which lasted for 54 days, from March 16, 2024, to May 8, 2024.

Recent volcano eruption in Iceland on the Reykjanes Peninsula

VOLCANO TOURS IN REYKJANES PENINSULA

IS IT STILL SAFE TO GO TO ICELAND?

Yes, it's safe to visit Iceland. Flights and our tours (except for those including the Blue Lagoon) are running smoothly despite the eruption, and the Ring Road, the main route around the country, is open as usual.

ICELAND VOLCANO LIVE VIDEO

Hagafell

IS THE ERUPTION DANGEROUS?

The eruption is not considered dangerous to the public or flights. A fissure eruption only affects the area directly surrounding the eruption site with lava flows. If authorities allow it, people can approach the site, but until then, they should stay away from it to avoid any danger.

Learn more in this short video with Dr. Matthew Roberts, Managing Director at the Icelandic Met Office.

 

Q&A about the volcanic activity on the Reykjanes Peninsula

ARE THE FLIGHTS AFFECTED?

Keflavík Airport is operating as usual, and flights are not affected.

The Reykjanes Peninsula has seen several volcanic eruptions since 2021, none of which have affected tours or flights. These volcanic events differ significantly from the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption, which caused air travel disruptions due to extensive ash clouds.

Unlike the subglacial Eyjafjallajökull eruption, the recent eruptions in Reykjanes are fissure eruptions, which are smaller and do not emit ash.

CAN I VISIT THE VOLCANO ERUPTION SITE?

Currently, the area near the eruption site is closed for safety reasons until further notice. However, for future visits to any volcanic sites, we recommend guided tours for safety and informative experiences. Keep an eye on official updates for when such tours might become available again!

CAN I VISIT THE BLUE LAGOON?

Blue Lagoon's opening times may be affected due to recent seismic activity in the area. An eruption at Sundhnúkagígar is at a safe distance from the lagoon, however, operational hours may be influenced by air quality forecasts.

IS ICELAND PREPARED?

Icelandic authorities are well-prepared for such events. Iceland experiences frequent volcanic activity, particularly in the Reykjanes peninsula, where several eruptions have occurred in recent years. 

For more information, follow the updates at the Icelandic Meteorological Office or Safe Travel Iceland.

CAN I CONTINUE MY TRIP AND JOIN TOURS?

Our tours are proceeding as scheduled, so there's no need to change your plans. However, if you have any concerns about your itinerary, feel free to contact our team for assistance. Since nature can be unpredictable and circumstances may change, we're closely monitoring updates from the authorities. We'll inform you of any developments affecting your travel plans with us.

HOW LONG WILL ICELAND'S VOLCANO ERUPTION LAST?

It's challenging to predict the duration of Iceland's eruptions. They could potentially last for a few days or extend over several months.

WHAT CAUSES VOLCANIC ERUPTIONS IN ICELAND?

In Iceland, living with earthquakes and volcanoes is part of everyday life. This is because Iceland sits on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge in the North Atlantic Ocean.

Here, the Eurasian and North American plates move apart, creating rift zones where the Earth's crust breaks apart. Magma, or molten rock, rises up through these fractures and sometimes erupts as lava or ash.

Iceland has some of the most advanced earthquake monitoring and volcanic eruption prediction systems in the world. This guarantees the safety of both residents and tourists, allowing them to continue with their daily routines even during times of heightened seismic activity.

SUMMARY OF RECENT VOLCANO ERUPTIONS IN ICELAND

  • 2021 (March) - Fagradalsfjall eruption in Geldingadalir valley.
  • 2022 (August) - Fagradalsfjall eruption in Meradalir valley.
  • 2023 (July) - Litli-Hrutur eruption.
  • 2023 (December) - first Sundhnúkur (Sundhnukagigar) eruption.
  • 2024 (January) - second Sundhnúkur eruption.
  • 2024 (February) - third Sundhnúkur eruption.
  • 2024 (March) - fourth Sundhnúkur eruption.
  • 2024 (May) - fifth Sundhnúkur eruption.
Volcano eruption in Reykjanes Peninsula

March 2024 Volcano Eruption in Iceland - Photo by Julius Matikas

VOLCANIC ERUPTIONS IN 2023-2024

A series of four lava fissure eruptions commenced on December 18, 2023, at the Sundhnúkur crater chain, north of Grindavík, on the Reykjanes Peninsula. The eruptions occurred within the Reykjanes volcanic zone.

The first eruption started on December 18, 2023, and lasted 3 days until December 21.

The second eruption began on January 14, 2024, and ended on January 16. Within 24 hours, lava reached the outskirts of the town, damaging property and forcing people to evacuate.

The third eruption began on February 8, 2024, about a kilometer north of Grindavík, producing lava fountains up to 80 m (260 ft) tall. The eruption ended later in the day, with an estimated 15 million cubic meters of lava erupted.

The fourth eruption started on March 16, 2024, in the same area as the February eruption and ended on May 8, 2024. Despite the initial intensity, the eruption marks the longest of the four since December 2023, lasting 54 days.

The fifth eruption started on May 29, 2024, in the same area as previous eruption. 

VOLCANIC ERUPTION IN 2023 (July)

In July 2023, an eruption occurred at Litli-Hrútur in Iceland, unique and larger than the previous eruptions in the same area. Although it did not pose any immediate danger to communities or flights, it did present some challenges, such as gas pollution and intense seismic activity.

Public access to the eruption site was permitted, but hiking to the volcano was advised against due to high levels of volcanic gasses. The eruption occurred in an uninhabited area, posing no immediate risk to communities or infrastructure, and Keflavik Airport operated normally without any flight disruptions.

VOLCANIC ERUPTION IN 2022

Fagradalsfjall volcano, this time in the Meradalir Valley, erupted again on August 3rd, 2022, almost a year after its last eruption. This time, the eruption was characterized by lava flowing from a fissure vent without any explosive activity. The eruption officially concluded after 18 days on August 21, 2022.

Fortunately, the eruption did not pose an immediate threat to the surrounding infrastructure, lives, or air traffic. Keflavik International Airport flights were not disrupted. The Meradalir Valley could be accessed via a rather challenging 17 km hike. 

Although no visible activity has been observed since August 21st, 2022, the hiking path remained open for exploration.

VOLCANIC ERUPTION IN 2021

After over 6,000 years of dormancy, the Geldingadalur valley’s Fagradalsfjall volcano erupted on March 19, 2021, marking the first eruption in the Reykjanes UNESCO Global Geopark in 800 years. Uniquely, this eruption was dubbed a "tourist eruption" due to its accessibility and relatively low risk. It officially ended on September 18, 2021.

The eruption didn't immediately pose a threat to nearby towns. However, before the eruption, over 40,000 earthquakes occurred, evacuating 400-500 people from the area. On April 6, two new eruption fissures emerged, followed by another fissure on April 7, northeast of the original site.

The flowing lava traveled into Meradalir Valley, creating a new lava field. Later, a hiking trail was created for safer access to the eruption site.