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Volcanic Eruption in Iceland

March 21, 2021

I will get back to my Texas Photo Swing series after a brief pause to talk about Iceland. As I anticipated, this week was a little bit crazy after the travel delay caused by the weather. I need to process a couple of images for the first installment before I can publish it.

As long time readers of this blog know, I have a special place in my heart for Iceland. I lived in Iceland for nearly 7 years over two stints of being stationed at the now closed Naval Air Station, Keflavík (also known to the Icelanders as Keflavíkurflugvöllur or the NATO Agreed Area and is co-located with Iceland’s international airport). I’m fiercely loyal to the U.S., but Iceland is awful nice place to visit.

I started my obsession with photography in Iceland. Truth be told, my reason for volunteering to return to Iceland was because I was hopelessly addicted to all that the Icelandic landscape had to offer my film and later my digital sensors. I needed a second helping. Iceland is an amazing place to do photography.

When big news events occur in Iceland, it gets my attention. A volcanic eruption on the Reykjanes Peninsula meets that criteria.

The Reykjanes Peninsula sits at the southwest corner of the island. If Reykjavík and suburbs are included as part of the peninsula, the vast and growing majority of Icelanders live on the Reykjanes Peninsula.

In the past few weeks there had been a swarm of seismic activity on the peninsula, with earthquakes well over a 5 on the Richter scale. Other signs had pointed a potential eruption, some showing up as much as 15 months ago according to Iceland Review.

Early in the evening on Friday (March 19th), and eruption began at Geldingadalur, close to Fagradalsfjall on the Reykjanes Peninsula. Point to point, that is about 13 miles from the airport, meaning it hits very close to my old stomping grounds. Reports are that it created a fissure about a half mile long and as I write this Sunday morning it is still spewing lava.

Due to its proximity to the Agreed Area, it is an area that I am familiar with. The nearest town to the eruption is Grindavík, and my family and I made many trips to the little town. Running due south of the eruption is Road 427 (also known as Suðurstrandarvegur, which one website named the volcano), a starkly beautiful road that runs along the coast. There’s a small utility-style lighthouse just to the east of Grindavík which I have some digital images of somewhere. There used to be a wooden church at the intersection of Roads 42 and 427 which sadly burned down a couple of years after I left Iceland for the 2nd time.

All through that area are definite signs that this part of the island was once very volcanically active, though that was many centuries ago. Some media reports state that this specific volcano had not been active for over six thousand years, though others put the last volcanic activity closer to 1200 AD.

The good news is that with the current eruption that it is so far away from all population centers that there is no immediate danger to life or settled property. But there are some who believe this could be the start of a far more active chapter of seismic and volcano activity in this part of the country.

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