Grímsvötn Eruption Historically Short for the Volcano Skip to content

Grímsvötn Eruption Historically Short for the Volcano

The latest Grímsvötn eruption is among the shortest eruptions that have been recorded in the volcano, lasting six and a half days. However, the eruptions of 2004 and 1983 were even shorter, lasting four and five days, respectively.


From the first hours of the Grímsvötn eruption. Photo by Gyst. Click on the picture to enlarge it.

The latest Grímsvötn eruption began in the evening of Saturday, May 21, and was powerful at first—as is characteristic of the volcano—but waned quickly, Morgunbladid reports.

Volcanic activity was sporadic since Thursday and in the early hours of Saturday, May 28, sensors at Grímsvötn picked up very little activity until it stopped completely at 7 am.

Travelers on a week-long spring trip organized by the Glacier Research Association of Iceland were close to the crater on Vatnajökull glacier yesterday and confirmed that the eruption is over.

Grímsvötn has erupted nine to ten times since the beginning of the 20th century, as stated in the book Íslenskar eldstödvar by Ari Trausti Gudmundsson, and they have usually lasted for one to three weeks.

The two eruptions that occurred last year lasted longer; there was volcanic activity on Fimmvörduháls for three weeks and for two months in Eyjafjallajökull.

Hekla eruptions often last for months, although the volcano only erupted for three days in 1980 and 11 days in 2000. Katla (in Mýrdalsjökull) erupted for 24 days in 1918 and the Westman Islands eruption of 1973 lasted from January until June.

The Surtsey eruption lasted four years, from November 1963 to June 1967.

The organized cleanup in the Skaftárhreppur district after ash fall from Grímsvötn is completed and the vegetation is recovering quickly. However, inhabitants still have to deal with ash on both farmland and highland pastures.

Click here to read more about the Grímsvötn eruption.

Please note: The next issue of the print edition of Iceland Review will include extensive coverage of the eruption. If you subscribe now, you will receive a photo book by IR editor/photographer Páll Stefánsson of the eruption in Eyjafjallajökull as a gift.

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