Iceland’s Fagradalsfjall volcano erupted for the first time in almost 800 years on Friday, March 19, giving local photographer Bjorn Steinbekk a chance to capture some mesmerizing drone footage of the event. The incredible video shows glowing lava spewing from a fissure in a valley in the Reykjanes Peninsula, close to the island’s southern coast.
The eruption took place within the Krysuvik volcanic system, which doesn’t have a central volcano and has been inactive for centuries. It was first announced by the Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO), which has continued to monitor the eruption over the past few days.
In its latest update, the IMO describes the seismic activity as “minor”, adding that “the eruption will decrease gradually and end in the coming days or weeks.” Though located only around 30 kilometers (19 miles) from the Icelandic capital Reykjavik, the emerging lava is not considered a risk to the local population, and no one has been injured.
“Gas pollution from the volcanoes is not expected to have a significant impact on the well-being and health of residents on the Reykjanes Peninsula and the capital area in the next few days,” explains the IMO.
Following a long period of inactivity, the volcanic system awoke with a bang on February 24, when a 5.7-magnitude earthquake was registered. Some 50,000 smaller tremors were then recorded over the following weeks, indicating that an eruption was imminent.
The events of this past weekend did not, therefore, come as a surprise to locals, who had been expecting some major volcanic activity for some weeks. The warning signs also gave Steinbekk the heads-up that it was time to get his drone ready for action.
Naturally, as a photographer in Iceland, it’s always a good idea to be ready for a spectacular eruption, with the island being famous for its seismic activity. Located directly on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge – where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates meet – it’s one of the most volcanically active spots in the world.
Back in 2010, the Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupted in spectacular fashion, sending a colossal ash cloud into the atmosphere and grounding all air traffic over the region for more than a week. Fortunately, the Fagradalsfjall eruption of this weekend has turned out to be far less severe and is reported to be subsiding as the lava flow slows.
Yet this doesn’t make the eruption any less spectacular to look at, as Steinbekk’s jaw-dropping video demonstrates. A live stream of the eruption has also been set up, giving viewers the chance to watch as it slowly winds down.