It’s been 181 days since the Geldingadalir eruption began on Iceland’s Reykjanes peninsula on March 19, 2021. That means it has now overtaken the Holuhraun eruption to become Iceland’s longest-lasting eruption of the 21st century. It still shows no signs of stopping, and experts have stated that the eruption could last years or even decades.
The South Iceland Volcano and Natural Hazard Group reported the milestone on its Facebook page. “Surface activity in Geldingadalir has lapsed a few times but there are no signs that the eruption is ending soon,” the post states. The latest of these lapses lasted 8.5 days and ended on September 11, when surface activity at the eruption resumed once more. The University of Iceland’s Volcanology and Natural Hazard Group confirmed that this lapse was caused by a clogged vent.
“It is evident that the opening that fed vent 5 clogged up, which prevented magma from entering the vent over this time period,” a Facebook post from the group reads. “This also halted formation of very large gas-bubbles, which explains the drop in tremor intensity. Yet, periodic but weak tremor episodes, steady outgassing from the vent, incandescent lava in skylights above lava tubes and newly scorched vegetation along the lava margins in Geldingadalir is a testimony that magma was streaming up through the conduit towards the surface during this 8.5 day-long pause in the surface activity.”
Route A at the eruption site was closed yesterday after lava that had been pooling in Geldingadalir began streaming across the route and an evacuation of the area was carried out. The eruption site is open once more today and conditions are good. Over 288,000 people have visited the eruption site since the eruption began last March.
The Geldingadalir eruption is only three days away from its six-month anniversary, but it’s still far from becoming Iceland’s longest-lasting eruption of all time. The Surtsey eruption is considered the longest eruption in Iceland’s history, lasting from November 1963 until June 1967 and forming the island of the same name.