An eruption on Iceland looms.
Is a Plan B prepared?

Dr. Arnd Bernaerts
5 min readMar 18, 2021

UPDATE: 20 March 2021; Details at the end

Video-Helicopter View, ~1m 30sec

The ash from the Vulcan Eyjafjallajökull on Iceland, during the days 14–20 April 2010, covered large areas of Northern Europe. About 20 countries closed their airspace to commercial jet traffic and it affected approximately 10 million travelers.

The next eruption is looming, presumably easier to pronounce, but much more devastating than 11 years ago. Iceland that usually records 1'000 tremors in a whole year, observed more than are 40'000 during the last few weeks. Few quakes were as strong as magnitudes of 5.7., on the volcanic explosivity index. A warning has been issued: “Due to the ongoing seismic activity in Reykjanes peninsula people are advised to avoid steep terrain as rocks and boulders can fall and chances of landslides are increased.


The Icelandic Met Office assumes that the volcanic activity could occur near Fagradalsfjall, 20 miles south of Reykjavik, or near the Keilir mountain close by. That would be the first in the region in 800 years, which spanned from the 11th to the 13th century. Now again the alert is high and the concern modest. Iceland’s scientists have a lot of experience, as there are 30 active volcanoes on the island. Presumably there will be an effusive eruption, rather than explosive, is the likely option it is said, and it looks like we are on time. Is the world prepared for a major volcano eruption in the Northern Hemisphere?

Defiantly not, if anything more is coming up than the Eyjafjallajökull just a decade ago. The last serious volcano incident happened 128 years ago, but its impact seems forgotten and ignored by the people, the politicians and science. Climate scientists warn about global warming, but seem blind about a case which reduces the sun-ray reaching the earth surface over few years. By a similar incident the impact on the modern industrialized world be unimaginable destructive. But the talk is only about global warming, with nowhere a Plan B in sight.

The eruption of the volcano Krakatoa on August 26–27, 1883, was the first news story to go around the world, but spurred also the first scientifically well recorded and studied eruption of a volcano over several years. (More details) And what do we know of the climatic impact today? A mere fraction at most and very little about the main influencer: the oceans. Even today, the discussion of large-scale volcanic eruptions is limited to the determination that it can become colder for a period of time, which ignores the main regulatory mean on a water planet. Only if one distinguish between high and low latitude, summer and winter, and particularly between coastal regions and inter-continental regions the path for observing the oceanic influence and decisive impact during the few years after the out brake can be detected. That has never happen.

The latest information by the Icelandic Met office reads a follows;

Updated 15.03 at 11:00
Since midnight over 1000 earthquakes have been detected on the Reykjanes Peninsula, with the most active area located south of Mt. Fagradalsfjall. The largest earthquakes measured at M3,2, at 01:20 GMT last night and 07:39 GMT this morning.

It may take many more weeks or years until a serious eruption will happen, near Fagradalsfjall or elsewhere. For now we can only hope the best for this and the next generation, that Krakatoa is not in for a repeat. To understand such a situation inadequately and not to include it in preventive planning indicates a failure of science.

More detailed and more pictures at

A volcanic eruption has begun

Updated 19.03 23:20, 2021, Source: Icelandic Met Office,

At around 20:45 UTC today, 19 March, a volcanic eruption began at Geldingadalur, close to Fagradalsfjall on the Reykjanes Peninsula. The eruption was first seen on a web camera positioned close the mountain. It was also confirmed on thermal satellite imagery. At the time of writing, the weather on the peninsula is wet and windy, and an orange glow can be seen in low clouds on the horizon from Reykjanesbær and Grindavík. The eruption site is in a valley, about 4.7 km inland from the southern coast of the peninsula. The coastal town of Grindavík is the closed populated region to the eruption site, located approximately 10 km to the southwest.

Earthquake activity in the region of the magma intrusion has been lower in recent days, and there is presently no intense seismicity occurring in the region. Earlier in the day, several low-frequency earthquakes were recorded below Fagradalsfjall. There are presently no reports of ash fall, although tephra and gas emissions are to be expected. In line with well-rehearsed contingency plans, the aviation colour code for the Reykjanes Peninsula has been elevated to red, signifying an eruption in progress. Additional domestic restrictions have been put in place, including the closure of Reykjanesbraut — the main road from the capital region to Reykjanesbær and the international airport at Keflavík.