Iceland’s Newest Volcanic Eruption - Hotel Rangá
Red and orange lava bursts from the earth at Iceland's Meradalir volcano.

Iceland’s Newest Volcanic Eruption

Iceland’s newest volcanic eruption has started! What’s more, photographer Stefan Pálsson was one of the first to visit the eruption site. We chatted with him to get some inside information about the volcano. Keep reading to learn the best way to reach the volcano, how to safely visit the eruption site and more.

Iceland’s newest volcanic eruption has started! What’s more, photographer Stefán Pálsson was one of the first to visit the eruption site. We chatted with him to get some inside information about the volcano. Keep reading to learn the best way to reach the volcano, how to safely visit the eruption site and more.

Iceland's Newest Volcanic Eruption in the Meradalir Valley
Iceland’s Newest Volcanic Eruption in the Meradalir Valley. Photo by Stefán Pálsson.

Lava in the Meradalir Valley

The lava is flowing in the Meradalir Valley – very close to last year’s eruption of Fagradalsfjall in the Geldingadalur Valley. Volcanic eruptions are quite common in Iceland. However, it is still incredibly exciting when a new eruption begins.

Volcanic Eruption Iceland Meradalir
People watching Iceland’s Newest Volcanic Eruption in the Merdalir Valley. Photo by Stefán Pálsson.

Iceland’s Newest Volcanic Eruption

This eruption is quite small and fairly accessible. In our opinion, this is the best kind of eruption. The Meradalir Valley eruption has no ash cloud and does not pose a threat to humans or animals. What’s more, the site is a moderate hike and gives many people a chance to see a volcano up close.

Eyjafjallajokull Volcanic Eruption
Eyjafjallajokull volcanic eruption. Photo by Stefan Palsson

Memories of the 2010 Eruption

You might remember the epic eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in 2010. That eruption was on a much larger scale. The heat of the volcanic eruption caused glacial melt and resulted in severe flooding. What’s more, the volcano’s huge ash cloud actually halted air traffic across Europe for several days!

Hotel Rangá Exterior with helicopter
Hotel Rangá with helicopter in foreground. Photograph by Ingibjörg Friðriksdóttir

Hotel Rangá’s Part in the Eyjafjallajökull Eruption

Hotel Rangá is very close to Eyjafjallajökull – you can see its beautiful snow-capped peaks from our front door. During the Eyjafjallajökull eruption, Hotel Rangá was the central hub for worldwide news outlets. In fact, we even hosted many helicopter pilots who would fly to Eyjafjallajökull daily to film and photograph the eruption.

Volcanic Eruption Iceland Meradalir
Iceland’s Newest Volcanic Eruption in the Meradalir Valley. Photo by Stefán Pálsson.

Interview with Photographer Stefán Pálsson

Stefán Pálsson is an Icelandic photographer who recently visited Iceland’s newest volcanic eruption. We asked him for advice and tips about visiting the Meradalir Valley to get an up-close view of the lava. He also shared some amazing shots of the volcano – the very same that are featured in this blog post.

Volcanic Eruption Iceland Meradalir hiking path
The trail to Iceland’s Newest Volcanic Eruption. Photo by Stefán Pálsson.

How long is the hike to Iceland’s newest volcanic eruption?

The hiking path is good to begin with, especially the first 3 km (~2 miles). But then it gets much more difficult, very rocky. Good shoes are essential. Members of Iceland’s search and rescue team are working to make the hiking path more accessible. You can see the hiking path in some of the photos. It is 6.5 km (~4 miles) to reach the volcano. You must hike the same way back, so the path is 13 km (~8 miles) in total.

path to Iceland's newest Volcanic Eruption Meradalir
The trail to Iceland’s Newest Volcanic Eruption. Photo by Stefán Pálsson.

What should visitors bring with them?

Bring something to sit on at the viewing point, because there are a lot of dirt and stones. It can be difficult to find a good spot to rest. It is also important to bring food and water.
Iceland’s search and rescue teams have asked people to be very well prepared and geared up. The Meradalir Valley is much colder than you might think, especially at night. Head lights or some type of lights are essential because the path is rocky and not well-established. iPhone flashlights will not be enough – you need some kind of flashlight. Otherwise, it is a very pretty path.

What camera equipment did you use at Iceland’s newest volcanic eruption?

I used Sony A1 camera and lenses: 70-200 mm f/2.8 and 28mm f2.0

Volcanic Eruption Iceland Meradalir
Iceland’s Newest Volcanic Eruption in the Meradalir Valley. Photo by Stefán Pálsson.

Any photo tips for other photographers visiting the volcano?

You cannot get close to the crater. What’s more, the lava field is slowly getting bigger. Most of my photos were shot around 100-150mm, but I believe it is ideal to bring a 100-200mm lens. Keep in mind that the hike is quite difficult. Hiking with a lot of equipment can be hard, depending on your physical level. You could also bring a bigger zoom lens and tripod if you want closeups of the lava spilling out of the crater.

The best time to visit is during golden hour, and when it begins to get dark. I would recommend bringing warm clothes so you can catch the light changing. It is amazing to experience those changes.

Volcanic Eruption Iceland Meradalir
Iceland’s Newest Volcanic Eruption. Photo by Stefán Pálsson.

Any tips for amateurs trying to capture good photos of the volcano?

I would recommend using a tripod to capture sharper images. The lava at Iceland’s newest volcanic eruption is bright, so I recommend that you use manual mode to find the right settings. The days are now getting shorter in Iceland and it is getting colder. You need to bring many layers so that you stay warm while shooting. You will get warm on the hike, but it gets cold quickly when you are still and photographing. Remember – Iceland is one of the windiest places on earth. What’s more, the Reykjanes peninsula has little shelter from the strong winds.

Volcanic Eruption Iceland Meradalir
Iceland’s Newest Volcanic Eruption. Photo by Stefán Pálsson.

Now you have visited both this eruption and the last one, at Fagradalsfjall – what would you say is the main difference?

The main difference is that the crater is located further away from the road, so it is a longer hike. The crater size is about the same size and we have similar views from Fagradalsfjall volcano. However, Fagradalsfjall lies higher than the current crater for now so you are looking down into the lava field. But with time the lava will fill up the valley.

Volcanic Eruption Iceland Meradalir
Iceland’s Newest Volcanic Eruption. Photo by Stefán Pálsson.

Any other tips for visitors to Iceland’s newest volcanic eruption?

Always do your research beforehand, check on the weather (vedur.is), and gear up before you go. And remember that the search and rescue team in Iceland are people volunteering their time to keep you safe. It is essential to be respectful and follow their orders. They will ask you to turn around on the hike if you are not properly prepared for this hike.

 

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