Is Torfajökull next?
Hidden at Fjallabak is Torfajökull. A volcano, where the second largest high-heat geothermal area in the country is after Grímsvötn witch is the largest, in the middle of Vatnajökull. Torfajökull has erupted twice since settlement. First in 872, the year the couple Ingólfur Arnarson and Hallveig Fróðadóttir settled here, the first settlers in Reykjavík. Some actually claim that the couple arrived two years later, and then they would have missed the eruption. Then it erupted again in 1480, the year Icelanders sent a letter of complaint to King Kristján I of Denmark to ban foreigners from wintering in Iceland. They greatly harmed the country by luring workers from the countryside, where the farmers desperately needed the labor to keep their homesteads going. Hrafntinnuhraun at Hrafntinnusker was formed in the first eruption, Námsraun and Laugahraun in Landmannalaugar in the second.
Now the earth under Torfajökull has started rising, one of the largest volcanoes in the country, and if an eruption starts there, it will be a big, serious eruption. Completely different from those beautiful little tourist-friendly eruptions that have been seen at Fagradalsfjall in Reykjanes for the past three years. There will be both an immeasurable amount of ash that will spread around the country, depending on the wind direction, and of course lava, which has a long way to go from the highlands of the south down to the settlements. Directly south from Torfajökull is Vík in Mýrdal, 50 km away, directly east towards the sea from Torfajökull is Fagurhólsmýri, in Öræfasveit, under the country’s highest peak, Hvannadalshnúkur, 120 km away. Directly north from Torfajökull is Siglufjörður 250 (252) km away, directly west you end up at Keflavík Airport 170 km away. Many large volcanoes are in the immediate vicinity of Torfajökull. Katla is 30 km away, Eldgjá 20 km from the glacier, and Laki is 75 km away.
Photographs & text: Páll Stefánsson
Reykjavík 16/08/2023 : A7R IV : FE 1.8/135mm GM, FE 1.8/20mm G, FE 1.2/50mm GM