Holuhraun lava field exploration

This past weekend I had the chance to join a tour to the Holuhraun Lava field which is situated just north of the Vatnajökull glaciers. To be honest I didn’t really know a lot about it until I went and googled it a couple days before the tour and realised that it actually is such a new lava field. The first activity in the area was recorded last year around August and only ended this year in February. Sometimes its really crazy how active the earth underneath Iceland still is!

It took about four hours to actually get there as half of the way is kind of an off-road, gravelly road and only accessibly to 4x4s, even crossing some streams and rivers along the way. The Icelandic Highlands look quite different from the coast and even though there’s nothing really there its beautiful it a very rugged and desolate way. The Holuhraun Lava field is now the largest one in Iceland (85 square kilometers in area and 1400 million cubic metres in volume!!!) and when the lava came to the surface it was between 1175-1180°C hot. Its so crazy to imagine, the lava actually changed the course of the river Jökulsá á Fjöllum to further eastwards than it flowd before. There were a lot of people on the tour that actually live in Akureyri and told me how it was during the Eruptions and they said that between September and November last year they would receive daily text messages whether or not it would be safe to go outside because of the air pollution from the eruption. About 11 million tons of sulphur dioxide where discharged into the atmosphere during the eruption and it was like a blue haze that could be seen from long distances away. After hearing/reading all this it was fascinating to actually walk through edges of the lava field and to see that there are actually some parts where smoke is still coming out of the cracks in the lava. Of course you are not allowed to go close to these areas. But even the paths you can follow along leads along some cracks that still emit a lot of warm. One of them actually felt like you were sitting next to an oven, it was so warm. You couldn’t hold your hands into it for too long as it actually became too hot after just a minute or so. It was a good way to warm up though since it was only about 5°C outside!

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Old and new lava right next to each other
Old and new lava right next to each other

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One of the streams we had to cross and got stuck in
One of the streams we had to cross and got stuck in
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