The eruptions on the Reykanes peninsula in 2021 and 2022 once again propelled Iceland’s volcanoes into the global consciousness. The last time this happened was in 2010, when Eyjafjallajökull’s ash cloud grounded an estimated 10 million air travellers. By contrast, the latest social media-friendly eruptions, a half-hour drive from the capital, attracted even more tourists to the island’s already strained post-COVID hospitality industry.
Although at any given time there’s a 50/50 chance a volcanic eruption is ongoing in Iceland, the last time the Reykjanes peninsula witnessed an active volcano was in the 12th century. The eruptions were part of a sustained period of volcanic activity that spanned more than 200 years, known to Icelanders as the “Reykjavík Fires.” Could these latest eruptions herald a new era of volcanic activity on the peninsula, near the homes of over two-thirds of Iceland’s population?