• Einar Páll Svavarsson

Holuhraun lava field


Holuhraun
Holuhraun

One of the contributing factors to the image of Iceland as an exotic place is the eruptions that occur regularly. If you plan on visiting the Highland in Iceland and if you are looking for things to do, one option is to visit the Holuhraun lava field. Holuhraun is the name of one of our latest eruptions, originating in a large fissure on the black sands north of the ice cap Vatnajökull or ‘Water Glacier’. This eruption occurred at the end of August 2014 and lasted for six months until the end of February 2015. The eruption produced an 85-square-kilometer lava field, making it one of the largest in Iceland's geological history.


A quiet but massive eruption

Scientists exploring the new lava in 2016
Scientists exploring the new lava in 2016

The eruption surfaced on sand deep in the Highland of Iceland, and it was a kind of silent eruption. The only threat was the highly toxic chemicals that came steaming out of the glowing lava, causing authorities in Iceland to ban visits to the volcanic fissure. This was the main reason the Holuhraun eruption did not develop into a tourist eruption like many recent examples in Iceland, like the Eyjafjallajökull volcano and the eruption in Geldingadalir at Reykjanes Peninsula in 2020.


New rocks and stones that recently lived in a thousand-degree magma

The very young lava at Holuhraun
The very young lava at Holuhraun

The result of this massive eruption is a large lava field in the midst of the Highland in Iceland. Here you can meet one of the youngest members of the entire planet’s geological family. Newly formed rocks and stones in a lava field that lived for ages in the glowing magma under the surface, and ironically under the ice cap Vatnajökull with more than one thousand degrees between it and the magma below.


How to go to the Holuhraun lava field

Hiking towards the new lava - still warm
Hiking towards the new lava - still warm

Visiting the new lava field requires a good 4X4 vehicle, since you need to drive on off-road tracks and cross rivers. Therefore, a modified 4X4 vehicle is recommended. Although there are a few options to drive to Holuhraun, one of the most popular is to drive the mountain road F88 from the Ring Road no. 1, a few kilometers east of lake Mývatn, and head to Herðubreiðalindir on a road called Öskjuvegur. South of Herðubreiðalindir, you take the mountain road F910 to the mountain huts at Drekagil, or ‘Dragon's ravine’. At Dreki, you also find a visitor center with a wealth of information about the Vatnajokull National Park. From Dreki, you continue on Road 910 to the lava field to enter a world of new rocks and stones in the Holuhraun lava.



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