10 Largest volcanic eruptions in Iceland


Below is a list of the 10 largest volcanic eruptions since the settlement of Iceland and an interactive map that shows the location of each volcanic eruption. The place names in the following list are linked to 360 degree photos of each location. (This article is written by guest writer & volcanologist Lovísa Mjöll Gudmundsdottir)

10 Largest Volcanic Eruptions since the Settlement of Iceland

1. Eldgjá and Katla (934)

Volume of material (lava,ash – km3): 19.6

Volcanic Explosivity Index: 5

2. Lakagígar (1783-1785)

Volume of material (lava,ash)(km3): 14.7

Volcanic Explosivity Index: 4

3. Öræfajökull (1362)

Volume of material (lava,ash)(km3): 10

Volcanic Explosivity Index: 6

4. Veiðivötn (1480)

Volume of material (lava,ash)(km3): 3.9

Volcanic Explosivity Index: 5-6

5. Vatnaöldur (870)

Volume of material (lava,ash)(km3): 3.3

Volcanic Explosivity Index: 5

6. Hekla-H1 (1104)

Volume of material (lava,ash)(km3): 2.5

Volcanic Explosivity Index: 5

7. Askja (1875)

Volume of material (lava,ash)(km3): 1.8

Volcanic Explosivity Index: 5

8. Hekla (1766)

Volume of material (lava,ash)(km3): 1.54

Volcanic Explosivity Index: 4

9. Holuhraun (2014-2015)

Volume of material (lava,ash)(km3): 1.5

Volcanic Explosivity Index: 5

10. Surtsey (1963-1967)

Volume of material (lava,ash)(km3): 1.5

Volcanic Explosivity Index: 4

Famous Volcanic Eruptions in modern times

Eyjafjallajökull & Fimmvörðuháls (2010)

Volume of material (lava,ash)(km3): 0.293

Volcanic Explosivity Index: 4

See 360 degree photo of Eyjafjallajökull here: https://www.iceland360vr.com/panorama/thorvaldseyri/

Grímsvötn (2011)

Volume of material (lava,ash)(km3): 0.2-0.3

Volcanic Explosivity Index: 3

Eldfell-Vestmannaeyjar (1973)

Volume of material (lava,ash)(km3): 0.25

Volcanic Explosivity Index: 3

Grímsvötn (2004)

Volume of material (lava,ash)(km3): 0.02

Volcanic Explosivity Index: 2

Kröflueldar (1975-1984)

Volume of material (lava,ash)(km3): 0.25

Volcanic Explosivity Index: <1

Geldingadalir (2021)

Ongoing eruption, started 19th March  2021

We have been to the eruption a few times since I started to produce material for this website and we have already published a 3d model of Geldingadalir eruption and a 360 degree photo of Geldingadalir eruption.

Links to other websites with information about the Geldingadalir volcano eruption:

You can see a live webcam feed from the eruption here: www.ruv.is

You can see the latest updates about the Geldingadalir eruption here: www.weather.is

10 largest volcanic eruptions since settlement of Iceland

Why do volcanic eruptions in Iceland happen?

Iceland is located on a divergent tectonic plate boundary and a volcanic hot spot sits underneath it. This interaction drives volcanic activity in Iceland. The hot spot and seperating plates allow lava to find its way through the weakest spots in the bedrock up to the surface.

illustration of the tectonic plates of earth earthquakes in iceland

Where do volcanic eruptions in Iceland happen?

Iceland has about 32 active volcanic systems and erutions occur every 3-4 years on average. These volcanic systems are located close to or on the divergent plate boundaries with an exception of the Snæfellsnes system.

earthquakes in iceland volcanic system of iceland earthquakes in iceland and tectonic plates

Famous volcanic eruptions in Iceland

One of the most famous eruption in Iceland is Laki/Skaftáreldar in 1783 where the eruption had an impact not only on Iceland, but the whole world due to its poisonous gases. A more recent one is the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption which made a huge impact on air traffic as the eruption produced a lot of ash causing many flights to be cancelled across Europe.

Different categories of volcanic eruptions

Volcanic eruptions are split into 2 major categories, effusive eruptions and explosive eruptions. The 10 largest volcanic eruptions Iceland have examples of both of these categories of eruptions. An effusive eruption is when magma is steadily ejected to the surface (often called red volcanoes). An explosive eruption is when magma is violently fragmented and exits the volcano with speed (often called grey volcanoes). An eruption can be a mix of the two. For instance, it can start off explosive, then be both effusive and explosive and ultimately finish off effusive. The Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) is a scale which presents the eruptive strength of volcanoes. It takes into account the height of the eruption column, how long the eruption lasted and the volume of the erupted material. The VEI scale goes from 0-8 where Hawaiian eruptions are 0-1 and the supervolcanic Yellowstone eruption is 8 on the VEI scale.




Geldingadalir Volcano Eruption 3d model

Click on the “play” button below to open the 3d model and then click “fullscreen mode” in the bottom right corner. This 3d model is a collaborative project made by Snorri Thor Tryggvason from Iceland360VR and Simeon Schmauss

Geldingadalir Volcanic Eruption

The craters in Geldingadalir started erupting late evening on the 19th of March. The magma seems to originate deep beneath the crust. This defines the eruption as a caldera rather than a crater and could indicate that this small and steady lava flow could last for years, decades, and even centuries. Here is an article about the top 10 largest volcanic eruptions in Iceland since settlement.

Grave of Ísólfur

The eruption area is home to an ancient burial site dating back to before the year 1000, where the remains of the Norse settler Ísólfur frá Ísólfsstöðum lie. Geldingadalir The word “geldingur” in Icelandic means a castrated man or a castrated animal. The name of Geldingadalir valley was probably connected to castrated rams (Wethers) being kept there during summer.


Fagradalsfjall mountain is a tuya that erupted during the last glaciation under the ice shield. A strong seismic crisis began in the area near Fagradalsfjall since late Feb 2021, interpreted as intrusion of magma at shallow depth. This led to the first historic eruption of the volcano on 19th of March 2021.

Earthquakes in Iceland


Where can I find information about where earthquakes are happening in Iceland?

Earthquakes in Iceland are quite common in certain areas. The earthquakes most commonly happen along the line where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates meet. On the website of the Icelandic meteorological office you can see a map that shows the locations of current seismic activity:  https://en.vedur.is/earthquakes-and-volcanism/earthquakes

earthquakes in iceland locations

The website of the U.S. Geolocical Survey also has interactive maps showing the location and strength of earthquakes happening around the world in realtime:



Why do earthquakes happen so frequently in Iceland?

An earthquake is what happens when two blocks of the earth suddenly slip past one another. The surface where they slip is called the fault or fault plane.  Iceland sits directly on top of the mid-Atlantic Ridge. Half of the country sits on the Eurasian tectonic plate and the other half on the North American tectonic plate. Iceland was formed from these two plates moving apart. Lava flowed out from the mantle, through the gap in the earth’s crust, and formed volcanoes in the ocean. Eventually, these volcanoes grew large enough that they reached the ocean’s surface, and Iceland appeared.  Some of Iceland’s volcanoes are still active today, and so new land is constantly being formed. The two tectonic plates are still moving apart, at a rate of about 2.5 centimeters (1 inch) per year. This movement causes seismic activity, and therefore Iceland does experience fairly regular earthquakes.

illustration of the tectonic plates of earth

Map of the world showing tectonic plates

What can I do to be more safe during an earthquake?

There is seldom advance warning of an earthquake.  Therefore, it is important to take safety measures ahead of time and to learn how to respond. If needed SMS warning text messages are sent to mobiles phones after earthquakes from the Civil Protection to the affected area

Security measures

  • Secure cabinets, shelves and heavy objects to the floor or wall.
  • Do not keep heavy objects on top of shelves or on walls.
  • Secure heating equipment and radiators.  Know where the water main and electric circuit breaker  are.
  • Secure picture frames and wall light fixtures with closed-loop hangers.  Put security latches/child safety latches on cabinet doors.
  • Prevent objects from falling on beds.
  • Make sure that ceiling panels and raised floors are properly fastened.  Cover windows to prevent flying glass in case they are broken.  Do not place beds under windows if there is a danger of an earthquake.
  • Announcements from the Civil Protection will be made on the State Radio in case of a natural disaster.

Preventive response

It is good to memorize the words DUCK, COVER, HOLD to remember how to react in the event of an earthquake.  Those who are indoors when a large earthquake occurs should especially avoid:

  • Furniture that may move.
  • Objects that may fall from shelves and cabinets (especially in kitchens).
  • Radiators that may move.
  • Broken glass.
  • Falling building parts.

Those who are outside should:

  • Find an open space and avoid buildings and electric poles. Keep a safe distance from man-made structures that are as tall or taller than you.
  • Duck and cover head (at least with hands) if you cannot get to an open space.
  • Avoid falling rocks and gravel slides in mountainous areas.
  • Those who are driving should stop their vehicles  in a safe place.

After an earthquake, one should:

  • Wear shoes (if debris is on the floor).
  • Obtain a first aid kit if needed.
  • See if anyone is hurt, and if so, call the Emergency Line at 112.  If it is not possible to get help by telephone, mark the place of the accident with a flag.
  • Turn off the water and heat if a leak is unmanageable, and shut down the main electrical circuit if the building is damaged.
  • See if there is a fire and do not use an open flame if there is danger of a fire starting.
  • Leave calmly if you think the building is uninhabitable after an earthquake. Many accidents occur when people run out through debris after an earthquake.
  • Dress appropriately for the weather conditions (see directions on evacuation) if you leave the building. Remember that the automobile is often the first heated shelter available and it has a radio.
  • Remember the emergency shelters in schools run by the Red Cross.
  • Listen after announcements from the Civil Protection that are sent to the State Radio see further information in General Instruction and General precautions).
  • Never touch damaged electric poles.
  • Be prepared for aftershocks.

What are the main earthquake areas in Iceland

Earthquakes are most commonly felt in areas where tectonic plates meet. Sometimes  there are even hundreds of earthquakes happening along this line pr.day, but most of them are so small that they can´t be felt except on seismic meters.  Earthquakes are quite common in areas along the line where the tectonic plates meet, such as in Reykjanes peninsula and around the mountain Hengill,  close to Reykjavík.

earthquakes in iceland volcanic system of iceland earthquakes in iceland and tectonic plates

Map of Iceland showing tectonic plate boundaries and location of main volcanoes.

How strong are earthquakes in Iceland?

The vast majority of earthquakes in Iceland are so small that they can barely be felt. Some earthquakes are caused by the plate movement, and others are caused by volcanic eruptions.

Here you can see a list of the most recent earthquakes that have happened in Iceland:


Here you can see a list of the the magnitude and locations of the strongest earthquakes that have been measured in Iceland:



Interesting facts about earthquakes

  • It is estimated that there are 500,000 detectable earthquakes in the world each year. 100,000 of those can be felt, and 100 of them cause damage.
  • Most earthquakes occur at depths of less than 80 km (50 miles) from the Earth’s surface.
  • The cause of earthquakes was stated correctly in 1760 by British engineer John Michell, one of the first fathers of seismology, in a memoir where he wrote that earthquakes and the waves of energy that they make are caused by “shifting masses of rock miles below the surface”.
  • The magnitude of an earthquake is a measured value of the earthquake size. The magnitude is the same no matter where you are, or how strong or weak the shaking was in various locations. The intensity of an earthquake is a measure of the shaking created by the earthquake, and this value does vary with location.
  • The world’s deadliest recorded earthquake occurred in 1556 in central China. It struck a region where most people lived in caves carved from soft rock. These dwellings collapsed during the earthquake, killing an estimated 830,000 people. In 1976 another deadly earthquake struck in Tangshan, China, where more than 250,000 people were killed.
  • Human beings can detect sounds in the frequency range 20-20,000 Hertz. If a P wave refracts out of the rock surface into the air, and it has a frequency in the audible range, it will be heard as a rumble. Most earthquake waves have a frequency of less than 20 Hz, so the waves themselves are usually not heard. Most of the rumbling noise heard during an earthquake is the building and its contents moving.
  • The largest recorded earthquake in the world was a magnitude 9.5 (Mw) in Chile on May 22, 1960.



How to find cheap food in Reykjavik


(see map with cheap food locations below)

updated april 14th 2019

Cheap food in Reykjavik, does it actually exist???

Have you ever wondered how to find cheap food in Reykjavik? Anyone who has travelled to Reykjavik, Iceland, quickly realizes that it can be hard to find reasonably priced food in the city. As a local I´ve seen the prices increase every year over the last years, and as a result, many Icelanders hardly ever go to restaurants due to the high price. Since I love finding new and delicious food I see it as my duty to share my knowledge about where to find cheap (but good!) food in Reykjavik. I´ve aimed at choosing locations where you´ll find a good meal for appr. $10-15.  So far I´ve found appr. 70 locations with reasonably priced food options! I will update this article regularly so if you have any tips on new places or changes in offers please comment below 🙂

Changes in the restaurant scene in Reykjavik

In recent years there has been a huge increase in the number of restaurants in Reykjavík. There is no shortage of choices when it comes to fine dining in Reykjavík and you´ll find many interesting articles online about great food in Reykjavík, such as this one, or this one.  You can even find interesting articles online about disgusting food in Iceland, such as this one.  It can be harder to find good food options while travelling on a budget. There are several articles online that name a few moderately priced dining options, but I have yet to find an extensive article about this subject. This has inspired me to write my first blog post; how to find cheap food in Reykjavik. (Article about cheap food in other parts of Iceland coming soon!)

Map of Reykjavik´s cheapest food options

Below you´ll find a map of Reykjavík where I´ve marked in all the locations of where to find cheap but good food in Reykjavik. On the map and the more detailed list below the map, you´ll find restaurants, fast food restaurants, cafés and supermarkets which offer several options when it comes to finding cheap but good food in Reykjavik.



Aktu Taktu

Tuesday special: homemade burgers, fries and a coke for 1000 kr (about $8-9US). Vegans can also enjoy a tasty vegan-friendly burger, served with fried mushrooms, onion, BBQ sauce and vegan cheese for 1000 kr as well.


Soup of the day, served in a bread bowl 990.

Bike Cave

Hamburger or veggie burger for 1195 each

BRIKK cafe

Soup of the day with bread of your choice (2 pieces) is 990isk. Coffee with refill is 290isk.

Bæjarins Bestu

A hod dog+coke combo costs 700kr. For a slightly more than 1000 kr (about $8-9US), you can get two hot dogs and one Coke

Café Haiti

Pancakes with cream, jam or chocolate are available for 600kr, sandwiches from 650kr, Cakes and pies for 950kr.

Cafe Paris

Lunch specials from 11:30-14:00 (Steak and fries or Catch of the day: 1990 kr.)


All dishes (pizzas, hot dogs and more) is under 1000kr (and you don’t need a membership just to eat there)


Two slices of pizza cost 970 kr, and there is a nice selection of paninis for 1090 kr a piece.


Special offer every tuesday: Medium pizza with 3 toppings for 1000.


Chicken wrap for 1290kr ($11.40)

Flatey Grandi

Margherita pizza for 1450kr and Marinara pizza for 1050kr on Mondays

Fish & Chips Vagninn

Food truck that offer fish & chips for under 1500kr


Salmon burger, or simple and delicious fish and chips. and drink (sparkling water) for 1.990kr.

Gamla Kaffihúsið

Soup of the day for just over 1000 kr.


Soups are 1490kr (soup of the month is 1390kr), bowls are 1690kr


Salad bar, price range appr.500-1000 kr. for a meal (Kilo price 1799 kr.)

Hlemmur Square

Lamb dinner “Square meal” on offer, from tuesdays-saturdays, for 1400kr.


6 inch sub + soda for 990kr, 12 inch sub + soda for 1590 (10:00 – 14:00)

Icelandic Street Food

Lamb / seashell soup with FREE REFILLS for 1490kr


Every dish of the day is under 1300kr

Jamie’s Italian

Beef / chicken burger with fries, fish and chips, or grilled chicken salad for 1500kr (weekdays 11:30 – 16:00 until Easter)

Kex hostel

Fish of day 11.30-17.00 for just 1000kr


Chicken wings, 12 pieces is almost 50% off on Sundays.

Le Bistro

French restaurant with lunch offers for 1990kr with soda or Coffee included.


A portion of Syrian stuffed pitas with fries (Arias Maria) costs 650 kr, while a large portion of chips costs 750 kr. Falafel bowl starters are available for 650kr and the price of the falafel sandwiches is slightly higher then 1000kr, they cost 1100kr.

Mál og Menning

 Soup of the day + bread + coffee for 1400


Fried noodles with vegetables, chicken and rice for 1450kr. If you eat inside there is soup included with refills.


A small portion of fries costs 499kr, a ham sandwich is available for 999kr and cheeseburgers are offered for 1099kr.

Noodle Station

Beef / chicken noodle soup for 1640kr, vegetable noodle soup for 960kr

Ramen Momo

Lunch offer (ramen+side) 1,690kr and 20% off the price if you bring your own container

Reykjavík Chips

Chips and coke combo for only 950 kr, or a large portion of chips for 1050kr.


30% off everything Monday if you order through the application


Vegetarian / chicken dish of the day with rice and 1/4 nan bread for 1290kr (weekdays 11:30 – 15:30, only for takeaway)


Burgers for 1490 11:30-14:00 and vegan burger (“the Advisor”) for just 1190 kr. (available all day)


Small sub of the day for only about 650 kr. There are plenty of options (6-inch sub) available in a price range of 900-1100kr. The cheapest 12-inch sub is the Veggie, costing only 1089kr.

Tokyo sushi

Lunch offer until 14:00 for 1990 kr. and soup 1430 kr.

Vita bar

Special offer: cheeseburger, fries and cocktail sauce for around 1500 kr