Skip to main content

Lava flow from the eruption at Reykjanes Peninsula.

Beginning on May 29th, 2024, the newest eruption is the 8th eruption in three years to take place on the peninsula and it is currently the largest one yet at an estimated 15 million cubic meters of lava being erupted. It flowed very close to the town of Grindavik as well as the Svartsengi power plant and the Blue Lagoon. All three were put under a mandatory evacuation due to the lava flows hitting the defensive walls built.

Efforts to stop the lava flow

As of June 22th, the eruption has been deemed officially over, having lasted a total of 24 days. Towards the end of the eruption, the defensive walls around the power plants were further reinforced and water was used to help slow and cool the lava more quickly. These walls are built up using excavators and bulldozers to push and pile up rocks and the earth. When this lava is erupted, it is very hot and fluid. It can flow as quickly as running water or as slowly as honey depending on how hot it is.

Recently the lava did flow over the barrier about one kilometer North of the powerplant and measures were quickly put into place to reinforce the walls and try to speed up the cooling process by spraying the flows with water. The last time water was used to cool lava was during the 1973 Heimaey eruption where it was used in an attempt to protect the harbor on the island during the eruption.

Not open for tourism

At this time the lava field is not open for tourism due to its location to the power plant as well as hot lava still moving around the lava field. While there is no new lava, lots of fields remain hot so it has yet to cool and solidify making it extremely dangerous to walk on and unpredictable. There are also toxic gasses being released from the fields such as various sulfur oxides (SO2, SO3, and SO4). During this period the Blue Lagoon has also suffered frequent shutdowns due to the dangers of the eruption.

While this most recent eruption was a very manageable one, with its increased lava amount it is a reminder that this area is very alive. Scientists don’t know when we can expect these eruptions to be over and this period of volcanism could last tens or even hundreds of years into the future. Recent findings have shown that magma is already starting to build up underground once again leading scientists to think that there is more to come in the future.