Olivier Grunewald took this image of the Icelandic volcano’s central crater filled with lava, forming a fiery lake of liquid rock
8 February 2023
WITH around 30 active volcanic ranges, Iceland is no stranger to lava and ash. But the eruption of Fagradalsfjall, daringly captured here by photographer Olivier Grunewald, has been one of the most memorable in recent times.
It sparked back into activity in March 2021, breaking a period of more than 800 years of volcanic dormancy in the Reykjanes region, near the capital Reykjavík. Not only did this turn into the longest-lasting eruption Iceland has seen in half a century, with its initial stages stretching over nearly half a year, its slow, effusive flow of lava (rather than volatile explosions) meant that the surrounding area was largely safe for the hundreds of thousands of visitors eager to catch a glimpse.
This magnificent image, taken in June 2021, shows Fagradalsfjall’s central crater filled with lava, forming a fiery lake of liquid rock that spills down its slopes. “Volcanoes generally fascinate me by their beauty, their power and by the feeling of being in contact with the forces that created our planet,” says Grunewald, who has been photographing such events for more than 25 years.
It can be dangerous work, he adds, but having an observer to keep an eye out for any risks and bringing protective equipment is sufficient to stay safe.
Despite its relatively tranquil nature, Fagradalsfjall isn’t done yet. It resumed its eruption in early August 2022 (although there has been no visible activity since later that month) and volcanologists warn it is on course for a cycle of eruptions that could span several more years.
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