The Krafla area is named after one of the mountains at the centre of the region and is the location of the Krafla geothermal power plant, which pumps cold water into the ground and uses the rising steam to make electricity. Prior to the construction of the geothermal plant, the area had been free of volcanoes for over two centuries, however once the construction began in 1975, the earth below the area began to move and Mount Krafla has erupted several times since. Man’s interference is considered by many to be responsible for triggering the eruptions.
Between three and eight kilometres (two to five miles) below the Krafla field lies the biggest magma reservoir in the area, which is the source of the volcanic activity. Magma builds up in the reservoir, causing the earth to rise, until it is released as rock intrusions or volcanic eruptions, resulting in the earth’s surface sinking again.
The activity in the 1970’s, known as the Krafla-Fires, began with a dramatic spurt of molten lava that lit up Reykjahlíð by night. Some 17 eruptions followed in the next decade. During one eruption, in 1979, the lava began to flow down the mountain towards the village of Reykjahlíð and the people fled to the church to pray for protection. The lava continued to flow but upon approaching the church the it split, flowing to the right and the left but leaving the church untouched. Luckily no major damage was done to the town throughout the decade of volcanic activity, however volcanologists are expecting Krafla to blow again any time. Seismographs are located all over the area and can predict an eruption with approximately 24 hours notice, which should allow the 500 residents of the area to be safely evacuated.
- Information provided by Cruise and Maritime Voyages
- Information provided by tour guide on Cruise and Maritime Voyages excursion
- Insight Guides: Iceland
- Information provided by Tourist Information Office in Akureyri