A mushroom cloud over the eruption site is easily visible from 25km away. As we get closer and see it from a different angle, a long downwind tail-cloud becomes visible.
From about a kilometer away it is clear that there is a column of hot fumes rising from the eruption site. These are transparent, until they cool down sufficiently for the water vapor in them to condense out.
Plenty of water to vaporize available, there was some snowfall earlier (and later).
Oh noes, is this another eruption? Nope, it's just the geothermal plant near Grindavík (and Blue Lagoon), trying its best to pretend to be a volcano! 😉
Photos taken from the hike up, about a kilometer or so from the actual eruption site, looking West (and away from the eruption site).
Finally, the headliner emerges!
The volcano becomes visible, first small and between the hills. The lava field seems cool and solid, but consider the snow melted on the hills around. Also, this lava "carpet" is at least 3 meters thick, and constantly slightly moving.
We had to walk around the valley, so we got a chance to photograph it from different sides. The lava field on the last photo is the oldest, thinnest, and coolest. There is even a bit of snow on it!
At long last, we're getting some action! Volcano is happily throwing some red-hot chunks of lava up in the air.
The sound is not possible to describe. A deep, low, rumbling mixed with a sound of storm waves crashing on a rocky shore is my best attempt.
The valley we came through to get to this point is almost directly behind the volcano cone.
Moving on around the valley allows us to finally see that the other side of the volcano cone has collapsed, revealing two on-going eruptions, throwing lava bombs up and about, and creating rivers of hot lava among the lava field.
We've spent quite some time just sitting there and watching the volcano do it's thing. It is awe-inspiring and humbling to witness such a thing.
Yours truly, in my heavy-seas sailing outfit, which turned out to be a very decent winter hiking outfit.
Yes, I do find the the fact that I brought a sailing outfit to a volcanic eruption funny. ⛵
Yes, my knit cap says "Ryś", which is "Lynx" in Polish, but also a short version of the name "rysiek".
Content warning: eye contact.
Let's focus on the lava flow for a bit. This was maybe 20m from me. The heat was easily felt even way farther from it.
Smart people tell me this is a good example of "strain localization on the sides of the channel", where the top of the flow has solidified, but sides are still flowing and glowing.
Can't really describe all the weird ways lava flows and boils and roils, and clumps, and moves. Imagine a thick soup, solidifying quickly, but also constantly on the move.
Weather changes *fast* in #Iceland ("there is no bad weather, you're just underdressed"), and even faster up in the hills.
It took 15 minutes for it to switch from sunny-blue-sky-reasonably-warm to heavy-grey-sky-heavy-snowfall-and-freezing.
A blizzard over a lava field and an active eruption is a sight to behold!
Embers in the black, solidified lava show this is just a thin crust, there's plenty of action underneath!
Fumes are dangerous: odorless, but heavier than air, and without wind they could displace air, killing anyone within minutes. Thankfully, the volcano creates its own wind, sucking fresh air from all around, heating it, and pumping it up. Hence the mushroom cloud from previous toots in this thread.
Rescue teams on-site monitored this, of course.
Speaking of rescue teams, let me re-use the most meme-worthy image from this stash again, to hook your attention in order to recognize their hard work and fantastic dedication.
These *volunteers* are on-site 24/7 in shit weather, with bad smells, and dealing with people who thought this is a picnic and came completely unprepared for the hike and weather, or worse: got drunk and unpleasant to deal with.
Thank you, you guys rock (pun semi-intended)!
Closer view of the head of the lava field on the more active side. Humans for scale. This is a solid 4-meter thick layer of solidified lava.
Only... it's not really all that solidified! Remember the embers from before? You can't see them in this photo, but they are there, and the lava wall is moving, slowly but constantly - notice the curled-up turf!
It's creaking and cracking, and every now and then a large chunk will fall off. Coming close is asking for trouble.
We had to leave the valley going around the other end of it, the path we used to get into it got closed by the rescue teams due to wind change bringing the fumes over it.
Which is great, as we got to see all the sides of the eruption. This was a better vantage point to notice all the action happening in the middle of the lava field.
That concludes our tour! Thank you for joining me in this adventure!
Here's a livestream from the eruption site:
@thegibson tell you a secret: I posed in this photo specifically to send it to my father, also a sailor, with the comment: "they lied to me about the sailing situation here, bastards".
@rysiek verified: calmly walking away from volcano eruptions looks more badass than the tv trope of calmly walking away from firey explosions
@rysiek Oh, it looks quite cold there. I mean hot. Well, it grassy. I mean rocky. Sharp rocks. No, round rocks. I supposed a picture really is worth a thousand words.
@xosem @tagomago yeah, the only hazards related directly to this eruption seem to be the fumes, and the cracking lava wall. Both are somewhat easy to avoid - keep a few meters away and up the hillside and you're fine.
The bigger danger, I feel, comes from sudden weather changes and very rough terrain, if one is not prepared for those. Once you're 2h from your car (and an additional hour's drive from home), if you do not have warm clothes, water, and some food, that's... not great.
Server run by the main developers of the project It is not focused on any particular niche interest - everyone is welcome as long as you follow our code of conduct!