Iceland, often referred to as the land of ice and fire by the locals, has been widely shaped by the epic forces of nature. Freezing arctic weather is in a constant battle with the extreme heat that lies below the earth’s surface, often resulting in explosive events.
These powerful forces of nature have molded the Icelandic landscape, creating plains of moss-covered lava, fields of black sand, as well as jagged peaks and immense craters. If it wasn’t for volcanoes in Iceland, the country would be a very different place.
If you have any questions about an Iceland volcano, we’re sure to answer it in this post.
How Many Volcanoes are in Iceland
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Does Iceland have volcanoes? Yes, very many. In fact, Iceland is home to a total of 130 volcanoes all together.
If you’re wondering how many active volcanoes are in Iceland, the answer is that there are about 30 active volcano systems throughout the island, except in the Westfjords.
The Westfjords are the oldest part of Iceland, and over thousands of years have been pushed away from the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Because of this, it’s the only part of Iceland that has to heat its water with electricity. The rest of the country uses geothermally heated water.
Active Volcanoes in Iceland
There are a few very active volcanoes in Iceland. Due to the country being so prepared, these eruptions are not very dangerous as citizens are warned well before eruptions take place.
Towns are also located very far from the most active volcanoes, so the biggest cities and towns are never too badly affected.
Here are a few Iceland volcanoes that are still active.
This hard to pronounce volcano in Iceland has been very active since the last glacial period. Its last eruption was in 2010 when it delayed flights around the world! Since 2010 there have been no eruptions from Eyjafjallajökull.
The top of the volcano is covered in a 100 square kilometre icecap, and it’s currently listed as a moderately active volcano.
Hekla is located in the south of the island and is a very active volcano in Iceland. Hekla is part of the volcanic ridge and has produced the largest amount of lava from any volcano in the world. Erupting over 512 kilometres worth of Lava in the last Millenium.
Vatnajokull is Iceland and Europe’s largest glacier, but it also contains an active volcano. The volcano is located under the glacier and is Iceland’s second-highest peak. Bárðarbunga is part of a volcanic system that measures 100-kilometres long and 25 kilometres wide.
The volcano used to erupt every 50 years or so, but no eruptions have been detected in the past 1000 years. Although no recent eruptions have taken place, the seismic activity of this volcano has been growing steadily, and the volcano is now registered as highly active.
Katla is another one of the very active volcanoes in Iceland. There have been 20 recorded eruptions between 930 – 1918, but it hasn’t erupted violently in over 100 years. There has been a lot of seismic activity in recent years that indicate Katla will soon erupt.
Katla is one of the largest volcanoes in Iceland and is also partially covered in ice.
Krafla has been quiet ever since its activity between 1975-1984. It is now listed as a moderately active volcano. There are many geothermal pools surrounding Krafla, which makes it the perfect volcano hike in Iceland.
Enjoy a hot water dip while watching the steam rise from the ground around you. It’s an other-worldly experience that you’re sure to thoroughly enjoy.
Askja is a moderately active volcano that has not erupted since 1961. It is home to Öskjuvatn, Iceland’s second deepest lake, which is generally frozen over.
Due to recent seismic activity, the lake is heating up and no longer freezes over. Scientists are keeping a keen eye on this volcano as they think it’ll be the very next volcano to erupt.
Grímsvötn has the highest eruption frequency of all volcanoes in Iceland. There was a very catastrophic eruption that took place in 1783, but all the others have been mild eruptions. Its last eruption took place in 2011.
The volcano is very closely monitored due to the fact that when it erupts, the pressure causes the ice-cap to rise and huge quantities of water to escape, which is known as jökulhlaup.
Eldfell is a volcanic cone recently formed in the surprise eruption that took place in 1973. The eruption began with no warning signs and went on for a full 5 months. It destroyed 400 homes on Heimaey Island and nearly caused a permanent evacuation. After the eruption, the islanders started to use the heat from the eruption to provide hot water and generate electricity for their homes.
There is now an interactive museum on the island, where you can learn about the eruption, and how it affected the lives of the locals. The islanders still celebrate Gosloka hátíð (end of eruption day) every year.
Scientists say that the volcano is considered moderately active, but not likely to erupt again anytime soon.
Thrihnukagigur is a dormant volcano, but the only one in Iceland that you’re actually allowed inside of. The volcano was discovered in 1974, and there are now tours that are operated inside of the volcano so that visitors can get an up-close-and-personal look at this magnificent force of nature.
On the tour, you can take an elevator down into the magma chamber and see the stunning array of colours it contains. If you’re a lover of all things volcanic, this is an opportunity that you shouldn’t be missed.
The Best Volcano Tours in Iceland
Now that you know about some of the most exciting volcanoes in Iceland to visit, you’ll need to figure out exactly how to visit them. Often the best way to do this is by taking a guided tour to the volcano. These tours give you a glimpse into the immensity of the colossal wonders of nature.
Raufarhólshellir Lava Tunnel: Underground Expedition
This tour will see you venturing underground to see a lava tunnel created almost 5000 years ago. It’s one of the longest lava tunnels in the country, and the great news is that it’s accessible all year round.
Your guide will tell you all about the geology and history of the tunnel while you see lava formations unique to Iceland.
Reykjavik: Golden Circle Full-Day Tour with Kerid Crater
This full-day tour will lead you through Iceland’s famed Golden Circle. You’ll get to see some of the most beautiful scenery that Iceland has to offer. Some of the most spectacular sights include the Geysir area, Þingvellir National Park, and the cascading Gullfoss waterfall.
Skaftafell: Ice Cave Tour & Glacier Hike
If you’ve always wanted to take in the splendour of stepping into a natural blue ice cave, this is your chance. Explore the icy world and walk on the largest glacier in Europe – Vatnajökull. This 4-hour tour is well worth it for those looking to have a completely unique experience.
Wrapping Up Volcanoes in Iceland
Now that you know a bit more about some of the most active volcanoes in Iceland, you can start planning hiking tours to a few of your favourites.
It’s only in recent years that the country’s tourism has spiked due to Iceland’s volcanoes. This is probably due to the great amount of publicity that the country got during the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in 2010 that delayed flights around the world.
Make sure you’re one of the many adventurers that get to enjoy Iceland’s majestic beauty from the perspective of a volcano! Are you up for the challenge?