Iceland’s Fagradalsfjall volcano opened for the first time in nearly 800 years on Friday, March 19, giving local photographer Bjorn Steinbeck the opportunity to capture some mesmerizing drone footage of the event.
In the incredible video, lava is raining down in a valley on the Reykjanes Peninsula near the island’s south coast. The eruption occurred in the Krysuvik volcanic system, which has no central volcano and has been dormant for many centuries. It first announced by the Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO), which has been monitoring the eruption for the past few days.
In its latest update, the IMO described the quake’s activity as “minor” and added, “the eruption will gradually subside and end in the coming days or weeks.” Although located about 30 kilometers (19 miles) from Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, the rising lava not considered a threat to the local population and no one was injured. The IMO explains, “Volcanic gas pollution is not expected to have a significant impact on the health and well-being of residents of the Reykjavik Peninsula and the capital region in the next few days.”
After a long period of inactivity, on February 24, when a magnitude 5.7 earthquake was registered, the volcanic system hit. About 50,000 small tremors recorded in the following weeks, indicating that an explosion was imminent. The events of this past weekend in the past did not come as a surprise to locals, who had been expecting some major volcanic activity for weeks. The warning signs also raised Steinbeck’s head that it was time to get the drone ready.
Naturally, as a photographer in Iceland, it is always a good idea to get the item ready for a spectacular explosion as the island becomes famous for its seismic activity. Located directly on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge – where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates meet – it is one of the most active volcanic spots in the world. In 2010, the Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupted in spectacular fashion, sending a huge ash cloud into the atmosphere and grounding all air traffic across the region for more than a week.
Fortunately, this weekend’s Fagradalsfjall crater has proven to be much less fatal, and it reported to be shrinking as the lava flow slows down. Yet it does not make the eruption any less spectacular, as Steinbeck’s jaw drops show in the video. A live stream of the blast has also been set up; giving viewers a chance to watch as it slowly unfolds.