Written by Bethan Hall-Jones

 

For our first full day out of quarantine, on Monday 7th June, we decided to visit Fagradalsfjall, an actively erupting shield volcano and tourist hot spot, which is located on the southwest coast not too far from Reykjavik. Shield volcanos are relatively flat compared to the classic cone shaped volcano. This is due to the low viscosity (more runny) lava and so it spreads out over a much larger area, resulting in its low-lying features.

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We decided that the easiest and cheapest transport there would be to rent a car and Emma volunteered to drive; this was the first time she would be driving not only on the right-hand side of the road, but also driving a 9-person minivan! We all arrived safely at the volcano car park (great job Emma!) and soon started our walk towards the eruption site, following the trail and taking in the amazing views out to the sea. The walk up to the viewing spot wasn’t too painful, only about an hour, and was a relatively easy climb. Nearer the top we began to see lava rivers flowing down which we thought looked amazing but would soon pale in comparison to the actual volcano!

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Once we had reached the top of the viewing hill, we found ourselves in watching in awe as we witnessed our first eruption. The amount of lava spewing out of the volcano was mesmerising and absolutely incredible. There were several people at the top with us and chatting to them we soon discovered that the majority were frequent visitors to the site and that if we had been a few weeks earlier we would have been able to view from the hill closer. However, its access points had now been swallowed by lava and the only way to reach it now would be to rent a private helicopter and land on top! Not quite in our budget! But we were also lucky to be visiting now as the hill we were standing on would also be swallowed in the next few weeks!

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The eruptions at the moment are really frequent, occurring around every 10-15 minutes, which also makes it great for observations as one drone had the unfortunate experience of having. It flew too close and crashed into the erupting lava! (https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-europe-57314928 )

We all found a comfy rock to sit on and settled in to eat our lunch with a view! Eruption after eruption, the excitement just continued to grow. After watching our 4th eruption, we decided the next would be the last and so we would take photos of everyone in front of the eruption!

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Reluctantly we then made our way back down to the car, but not before stopping at the edge of the cooled lava lake and chipping some souvenirs off of it to take home. We could even spot some glowing lava between the cracks in the cooled lava!

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Finally, back in the car we stopped at a small café by the sea and enjoyed coffee and cake to refuel before driving back and returning the car in one piece (phew!).

 

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