The ongoing eruption on Iceland’s Reykjanes peninsula is about 2-3 times more powerful than the 2021 eruption at the same site, according to the latest data from the University of Iceland’s Institute of Earth Sciences. In its first week, the eruption has covered an area of nearly one square kilometre with fresh lava and it shows no signs of stopping. This is the third eruption at the same site in three years, following some 800 years with no eruptions in the area.
Fresh lava over 20 metres thick
The eruption’s lava flow between July 13-17 averaged 13 cubic metres per second, slightly lower than the lava flow of 14.5 cubic metres per second between July 11-13, but due to the margin of error in measurements, researchers say the difference is not significant. The surface area of the new lava was 0.83 square kilometres [0.32 sq mi] as of yesterday, and its volume was 8.4 million cubic metres. The edge of the lava advances 300-400 metres [980-1,300 ft] daily with the distance being highly variable from day to day. The lava is around 10 metres thick on average but over 20 metres at its thickest.
All of these figures are quite similar to last year’s eruption in Meradalir but 2-3 times higher than the figures of the Geldingadalir eruption in 2021. The 2021 Geldingadalir Eruption was significantly smaller, but lasted around six months, while the 2022 Meradalir eruption lasted less than three weeks. So far, the current eruption is not threatening inhabited areas or infrastructure, though pollution from its gases as well as from wildfires set off by the lava are a significant risk for people at the site as well as further off.
Iceland Review has a handy guide on accessing the eruption site.