The Icelandic Met Office is not ready to pronounce the Meradalir eruption officially over, but the dwindling volcanic tremor finally came to a stop at the site on Saturday night. There is no longer visible lava flow from the main crater, and while there is still some activity in the main vent, it is likely already closed.
“The activity at the Meradalir vents and the associated tremor has been dwindling gradually over the last three days, to such a degree that at this moment no fountaining is visible at the vents and the tremor is almost non-existent,” the Volcanology and Natural Hazard Group of the University of Iceland wrote on their Facebook page on Saturday afternoon. “However, there is still steady venting of magmatic gases. This trend in the eruptive behavior is very different from that observed at the end of individual eruption episodes in the 2021 eruption, which were terminated very abruptly. Hence, it is likely that this rather slow and gradual decline in activity is signifying the demise [of] the 2022 Meradalir eruption.”
Disappointment for some, relief for others
The Meradalir eruption began on August 3 around 1:18 pm, not far from last year’s Geldingadalir eruption, on Southwest Iceland’s Reykjanes peninsula. By August 13, lava flow had decreased significantly around 10 days later to about one third of the original rate. Now all volcanic tremor has ceased, and the main vent appears to be closed. In order to formally declare the eruption over, however, there must be no activity at the site for several days or weeks.
While some who had not had a chance to see the eruption yet may be disappointed, residents of the Reykjanes peninsula are likely relieved the lava flow was contained to Meradalir valley, where it did not threaten nearby roads or energy infrastructure. Search and rescue crews who had been monitoring the site and its tens of thousands of visitors are also likely looking forward to some time off.
Volcanologists and geologists have stated that the Meradalir and Geldingadalir eruptions mark the beginning of a new active volcanic period on the Reykjanes peninsula that could last decades or even centuries.