Icelandic volcano erupts for first time in 800 years in March 2021

Sophie McNally reflects on Iceland's volcanic activity following the country's latest major eruption

Sophie McNally
1st May 2021
Image Credit: Brian Emfinger (New Scientist on YouTube)
Friday March 19 marked the historic eruption of Fagradalsfjall volcano in Iceland. Bystanders and spectators flocked in awe to see its pulsating lava, and glowing embers.

Several hours prior to the eruption, a 3.1 magnitude earthquake was registered 1.2km from the volcanic site. From this, the Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO) confirmed that the eruption began at approximately 20:45 GMT on Friday March 19.

Iceland is a volcanic hotspot, with an average of one major volcanic event every five years

The eruption marked the first in the past 800 years of the volcano's history. Meteorologists have marked this as no cause for concern however, with a build up of over 50,000 Icelandic earthquakes of late.

Despite concerns, the threat was minimal, with little ash thankfully coming from Fagradalsfjall itself during the eruption. Iceland is also a volcanic hotspot, with an average of one major volcanic event every five years.

This was a huge relief for scientists and activists alike, who worried over the polluting potential of this eruption. Locals were still advised to close their windows as special precaution against the unlocked volcanic gases.

At present, there have been four additional fissures since the original March 19 eruption. The latest of which came on the early hours of April 9. No official concern has been voiced over these developments either.

Fagradalsfjall pales in comparison with Iceland's 2010 Eyjafjallajökull series of eruptions. These decade-old events put a stop to air travel and put worries over a looming climate threat in motion.

Image Credit: Styrmir Kári & Heiðdís (Kaco Films on Vimeo)

The wonder of this volcanic eruption has been harnessed in the passing weeks, as officials declared the site safe to visit from Saturday March 20.

Since, the Icelandic Tourist Board has reported heights of near 5,000 visitors to Fagradalsfjall on a daily basis. Social media livestreams have also broadcasted the eruption site 24 hours a day to give the public even greater access.

Locals have even started to use Fagradalsfjall as a wedding site too, with vows now regularly exchanged in front of this astonishing backdrop.

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AUTHOR: Sophie McNally
Deputy Editor, History undergraduate, UB's The Spectrum alum and former KultureHub staff writer.

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