What’s going on in Iceland?

Last updated: May 30th, 2024

Update: 29/05/2024

The Fourth Eruption of 2024, at the Sundhnúkur crater row

  • The town of Grindavik, the power plant at Svartsengi and the Blue Lagoon have been safely evacuated.
  • The eruption is the largest in this series of volcanic eruptions on the Reykjanes peninsula, however, the intensity of the eruption has decreased significantly since it began yesterday.
  • Lava has flowed over some of the roads leading to Grindavik.
  • Iceland remains safe to visit and flights are operating as normal.
  • Any continued activity is unlikely to impact groups travelling to Iceland.


Update: 16/03/2024

  • A fourth eruption, in as many months, began on the evening of Saturday 16th March. 
  • As with previous eruptions, this was a fissure eruption, with no ash generated. 
  • The active fissure was 3.5km long extending from the northern side of Hagafell and north to Stóra-Skógfell. 
  • The most likely scenario is that the eruption will behave in a similar manner to the others and be short lived. 
  • The defensive walls built to protect the power station and town of Grindavik have worked well. 
  • The danger area is limited to the area around the town of Grindavik on the Reykjanes Peninsula, the rest of Iceland is safe to visit. 
  • Keflavik Airport has not been impacted and is fully operational. 
  • Activity has decreased overnight, in line with previous eruptions.


Update: 08/02/2024 – A serious and fast moving situation.

  • Eruption started with very little warning. An earthquake swarm was recorded at 05.20 and the lava began at 06.30.
  • The fissure is about 3km in length and north of the town of Grindivik. The town isn’t thought to be under threat from the lava flow.
  • The lava flow has moved to the west, crossing Grindavikurvegur (43 road) and on to the 426 which leads to the Blue Lagoon.
  • Defensive walls, built to protect the power station seem to be holding out so far.
  • The lava has reached the main hot water pipe leading from the Svartsengi Power Station to Reykjanesbær. Some parts are already without hot water.
  • Residents asked to reduce hot water consumption.
  • Work is underway (despite the risks) to construct a new pipeline
  • Lava has also reached one of the power lines, which has been shut down to reduce damage to the system.


Update 16/01/2024

  • A second eruption began on Sunday 14th January 2024, with the opening of a fissure north of the town of Grindavik. 
  • A second fissure opened, closer to Grindavik, and the northern part of the town was threatened by lava flow and at least 3 homes have been destroyed. 
  • The fissure closest to the town seems to have subsided, and there is currently no lava flowing in the town. 
  • The amount of lava flowing from the first fissure has decreased 
  • Dikes built to divert the flow of lava and protect most of the town have been effective so far. 
  • The situation is on going, and we will continue to monitor events.

Update 20/12/2023

  • The eruption has happened on Monday the 18th of December 2023.
  • A fissure has opened which is almost 4km long.
  • It is in the north town of Grindavik and so far the town is not under threat from the lava flow. The lava flow rate has been reducing since the eruption.

One of our FST’s has been keeping an up to date diary of the events of Reykjanes Volcano. Check out the blogs for more information!

“The Lull Before the Storm- Reykjanes Volcano Diary”- devongeography
“Sundhnúkagíger Eruption in Iceland, December 2023”- devongeography


What we know

  • Since October 24th seismic activity has increased on the Reykjanes Peninsula with reports of 1,000s of earthquakes a day.
  • On Thursday 9th November the Blue Lagoon was closed due to the increased seismic activity.
  • The alert level has been raised to emergency (the highest level) indicating an event could lead to harm to people, communities, properties or the environment. Immediate measures have been taken to save lives and prevent casualties, damage and or loss.
  • The town of Grindavik (home to almost 4,000 people) has been evacuated since the early hours of Saturday 11th November. Roads to the town and some others on the Reykjanes Peninsula have been closed. Magma dyke extending under the town..
  • A 15km long magma intrusion is believed to have formed with part of the magma dyke extending under the town of Grindavik. It is estimated this is moving slowly upwards and is thought to be only 800m below the surface. This 360˚ visual shows the line of the intrusion.
  • Since the evacuation of Grindavik large cracks have appeared in roads, hot water pipes have been fractured and there has been some structural damage to buildings, which can be seen here.
  • Residents have been allowed to briefly return to collect valuables and pets that were left behind in the rush to evacuate.
  • The exact location of a possible eruption site is still unknown. A volcanic eruption could happen anywhere along the 15km magma corridor.
  • In recent days earthquake activity has decreased although there are still frequent earthquakes the intensity has reduced.
  • The amount of magma feeding the intrusion has decreased which indicates that the likelihood of a fissure opening along the entire 15km of the intrusion is less likely and a fissure eruption (should it occur) will be smaller than first thought.
  • Scientists and the Department of Civil Protection are closely monitoring the situation and analysing developments.
  • The airport remains open and flights are arriving and departing all the time.
  • The danger area is limited to the area around the town of Grindavik on the Reykjanes Peninsula, the rest of Iceland is safe to visit.

What happens next?

It’s not possible to determine when or if an eruption might occur but there is still a high probability of an eruption. There are 3 possible scenarios:

1. A lava eruption could occur on land somewhere along the 15km magma intrusion. This is still thought to be the most likely outcome. A fissure could open in close proximity or within the town of Grindavik and have devastating consequences should lava engulf people’s homes, businesses and the town’s infrastructure.

2. There is still a possibility that no eruption will occur. Activity could die down and no magma will reach the surface. This would be the best possible outcome.

3. As the intrusion extends under the sea floor off the coast of Grindavik there is the possibility of a submarine eruption which would result in a more explosive eruption which is likely to produce some ash. This is now considered less likely but can’t be ruled out completely.

Will my tour be affected?

At present, we have no groups due to depart imminently for Iceland, however as avid Geographers, we are naturally keeping abreast of the situation unfolding in the area. As is standard practice, we are carefully monitoring local sources as well as ABTA and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCDO) travel advisories to ensure that we can heed any safety warnings to ensure the safety of our future groups and to support our suppliers and friends in Iceland. Unless the FCDO changes the travel advisory to warn against travel to Iceland, it is expected that tours will continue to depart as normal.


So, what happens if an eruption disrupts our travel plans?

Whilst is it difficult to put a “plan B” into place without knowing what the specific impact of any eruption will be, please rest assured that we are well-placed to make adaptations to group travel plans in the event this becomes necessary, imminently prior to departure or whilst on tour. This could mean a simple change to the itinerary, as has been the case with groups travelling earlier in November, or having to manage bigger travel disruption if, for example, the airport was closed for a significant period of time or the safety exclusion zone was widened to an extent that the itinerary was not possible to execute. In the event of any disruption to your planned trip, whether minor or major, we will always work with you to manage any changes that may be required.

Of course, safety is our primary concern for all tours and we are on hand to support our groups 24/7 when travelling, working closely with our chosen insurance partner Aviva, where appropriate. Furthermore, for your peace of mind, your money is completely protected in the event that you are prevented from travelling.

If you do need any further information, please do not hesitate to contact us.

We join with our friends in Iceland to hold our breath and wait to see what happens. Our thoughts and prayers are very much with the residents of Grindavik as they face these difficult times.

Where to find more information

The Icelandic Met Office: Scientific information on the seismic activity and development of events

Safetravel: Updates on safety

RÚV English: News coverage from Iceland in English

YouTube Live Stream Webcams: Multiview of live camera feeds monitoring the Reykjanes Peninsula