Morning Tea: Eruption in Geldingadalur (Castration Valley)

In the latest episode of The Raisin at the Hot Dog’s End my podcasting partner Jonas and I bring our listeners up to date on the goings on here in Iceland, including the recent eruption in Geldingadalur which roughly translates to Castration Valley.

New born rock, fresh from Mother Earth. Born March 21, 2021 in Geldingadalur, Iceland and now sitting on a plate on my kitchen table.

I won’t recount the podcast episode here but did want to share a little more of what it was like during the swarm and share a picture of the fresh rock so if that’s cool with you, carry on reading.

There are small earthquakes every day somewhere in Iceland. They’re usually small and not one feels them. But on Wednesday February 24, 2021 I was at a cafe having tea with friends when a 5.7 made the light fixtures sway and even the Icelanders present say, “I think that was an earthquake.” There was construction going on nearby so I wasn’t convinced until I kept getting texts notifications and then another smaller quake hit soon after.

That was the beginning and since then an earthquake swarm has been shaking Reykjanes peninsula for weeks. Many of the quakes, like the first, have been strong enough to be felt in Reykjavik which lies north and east of the peninsula.

At first, I was intrigued and amused. Buildings in Iceland are built to withstand fairly strong earthquakes. Although strongest of the swarm was that 5.7, on average, the ones we began feeling day-to-day were 3.3 to 4 ish. They’re not the kind of earthquakes that lay waste to human settlements but they were strong enough to rattle furniture and make you feel a little dizzy. You could hear the wave coming as the buildings shook and the thing within them rattled like maracas.

But then the first night quake hit and I was not so amused. Being awakened in the middle of the night by the earth shifting beneath you is not fun. After the first week, we were all getting pretty tired of the shaking. I posted on Facebook that it felt like living with an energetic toddler that just won’t sit the hell down and just when you think they’ve finally calmed down they jump on you and scream.

There was a good sized quake on Sunday the 14th of March, then things went relatively silent for a few days and you know when toddlers get quiet, they’re up to something. And then the meteorologic office of Iceland posted this update:

At around 20:45 UTC 19 March 2021, a volcanic eruption began at Geldingadalur, close to Fagradalsfjall on the Reykjanes Peninsula. The eruption was first seen on a web camera positioned close the mountain. It was also confirmed on thermal satellite imagery. 

Vedur.is

And all rejoiced. It was like we’d all given birth after weeks of labor. She is a tiny little thing, the smallest Iceland has seen in a while, gurgling and spewing lava but she’s ours. The husband and I have nightly dates where we watch our TV show of the moment and leave our phones in the bedroom so we didn’t see the news until after midnight. Being born and raised in Iceland and used to galavanting all over the highlands with maps, GPS and such at the ready, he (the husband), just couldn’t resist grabbing his gear (he’s a photographer) driving down in the middle of the night to see what he could see.

Of course the roads were closed and there aren’t any good paths to the site of the eruption so that night, he only got pics of the red glow emanating in the distance. Check out his Instagram for more pics. By Sunday morning, he’d plotted course and he and his best friend trekked across the rough terrain to watch the earth make more Iceland.

He came back in the late afternoon with a sore body, some great footage and a literal piece of newly created earth. Apparently hundreds of others went as well, some not anywhere near prepared for the journey. Sunday night the weather turned bad, like blizzard force winds and toxic eruption gas bad. Many people had to be rescued and some are yet to be found.

Scientists are saying this could be the beginning of an active period for the region meaning there will be more earthquakes and eruptions in the days, months or years to come…or not. That’s how it goes with earthquakes and such. We shall see.

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