Recent seismic activity in Iceland | Icelandair
Pingdom Check
11/19/2023 | 7:00 PM

Seismic activity on the Reykjanes peninsula

Last updated: December 1, 2023

Iceland remains safe and welcoming to visitors!

Our flight schedule continues to operate as normal, and we’re ready to welcome you as always.

We want to assure you: Reykjavík and Iceland are safe to travel in.

Icelandic authorities are keeping a close eye on the situation in a localized area of the country, monitoring the seismic activity that has been significantly subsiding, and keeping everyone up-to-date.

Rest assured that we will do the same for you, by communicating any schedule changes via our normal channels: email, text message, in our mobile app, and in the travel alert section of our website.

Seismic activity making news

Eruptions and earthquakes in Iceland: Those are words you’ve likely encountered these past few weeks because of the increased seismic activity on the Reykjanes peninsula, in the southwest corner of Iceland.

The international media has reported on this activity with a slightly sensationalist tone. We’d like to give you a simple run-down of what’s been happening and why it shouldn’t impact your visit to Iceland. 

Since late October, experts have been monitoring the seismic activity on the Reykjanes peninsula (roughly 50km/30 miles from Reykjavík, the capital city). The earthquake frequency in the area has decreased over the past days, but the local experts still believe an eruption is likely. Because of this, the small town of Grindavík has been evacuated, some of the roads on the peninsula are closed, and the Blue Lagoon is closed for the time being.

While the evacuations remain in place, the National Police Commissioner of Iceland has downgraded the Civil Protection Alert Phase from Emergency to Alert over seismic activity and residents of Grindavík are now allowed to access the town more freely. Some businesses in the town have already reopened their doors. For instance, the fish processing company Þorbjörn has resumed operations, and the local restaurant Sjómannastofan Vör is once again serving food to its guests.


The rest of the country is safe

This seismic event is localized around Grindavík, meaning that its impact does not affect the capital city or the areas further away. The road between Keflavík international airport and Reykjavík is open as normal.

The northern lights are still sparking, the ice caves still glistening. Everything that's great about winter travel in Iceland remains the same. The Blue Lagoon is closed for now, but there are a number of excellent alternatives for geothermal soaks and swims.

Our preparedness

Iceland is a volcanic island, with many active volcano systems. Eruptions and earthquakes are a part of our DNA, and we Icelanders are always well prepared for volcanic events. The country’s incredible nature has given us excellent training and expertise to deal with unique situations.

In fact, we’ve experienced three eruptions on the Reykjanes peninsula over the last three years – so-called ‘tourist eruptions’ that thousands of locals and tourists have witnessed and enjoyed. None of the recent eruptions affected flight schedules. Fun fact, did you know that there are currently over 40 volcanoes erupting around the globe without significantly disrupting air traffic?

Your journey

But what does this mean for you and your journey? For starters, flights in and out of Iceland are operating normally and in the case of an eruption, they likely won’t be affected.

In the unlikely event that an eruption will affect our operations, we’re well prepared. Iceland is home to a number of airports. Our hub is at Keflavík, but regional airports are also capable of handling international flights if needed.

We're in close contact with the authorities and we have a plan for multiple scenarios. It’s just what we do. 

Read more

For more information on the situation, we recommend the following sites:

Safetravel - general information on safety in the area

Icelandic Road Authority - road closures in the Southwest

Icelandic Meteorological Office - detailed updates from experts

Visit Reykjanes - news for the region

RÚV - live blog in English from the national broadcaster, with links to livestreams from the Grindavík area

Government of Iceland - official information from the Icelandic government


Photo: Aerial view over the town of Grindavík.

The volcanic reawakening of the Reykjanes peninsula

  • A new era of volcanic activity: The 2021 eruption was the first volcanic eruption in Iceland in 6 years and the first one in the Reykjanes peninsula in 800 years.
  • The 2021 eruption: The eruption was situated in the Geldingadalir valley next to the mountain named Fagradalsfjall. The location was compared to a massive bathtub that lava can slowly pour into. The eruption lasted for 6 months before ceasing in September 2021.
  • The 2022 eruption: On August 3, 2022, the volcano restarted, erupting from a fissure in the Meradalir valley, not far from the crater that erupted for the longest period during the 2021 eruption. It ended on August 21, 2022.
  • The July 2023 eruption: On July 4, 2023, significant seismic activity resumed on Reykjanes, indicating that a new eruption might start in the area between the mountains Keilir and Fagradalsfjall. On July 10, a small eruption started at Litli Hrútur, close to Fagradalsfjall. It ended on August 6, 2023.

Photo: Aerial view of the lava fields from the Fagradalsfjall volcano.


Previous eruptions

We've kept a close eye on the Fagradalsfjall volcano eruptions over the past three summers (2021 to 2023). These eruptions had no impact on flight operations, and they occurred a relative distance from infrastructure and towns.

We invite you to read more about their magnetic appeal.