Litli Hrútur: A New Eruption in Reykjanes

Date 23 July 2023

Litli Hrútur: A New Eruption in Reykjanes

Litli Hrútur: A New Eruption in Reykjanes

On July 10th 2023 in the late afternoon, an eruptive fault tore open the bedrock just North of Meradalir in the Reykjanes Peninsula. The event came after several days of intense earthquakes reaching upto a magnitude of 3, with a new crater formed just next to Litli Hrútur.

After nearly 900 years of relative peace and quiet, the Krysuvik volcanic system began to grumble on March 19, 2021, triggering a first eruption in the Geldingadalur valley in 2021. This was followed by the nearby Meradalir in 2022. (Check out our dedicated article for information on previous eruptions in the area). So this has turned out to be the 3rd consecutive year with an eruption in the Reykjanes peninsula!

The 2023 Reykjanes eruption

The new eruptive fault lies just north of the 2022 fault, merely a few miles on foot, halfway between Lake Kleifarvatn to the East and the Blue Lagoon to the West. Luckily, this remains far from the nearest dwellings and nearly 30 kilometers from the capital.

So far this event poses no risk of possible air traffic blockages, as was the case in 2010 with the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull which almost entirely paralyzed European airspace for several days.

The July 2023 eruptive fault stretches nearly 900 meters to the foot of Mount Litli Hrutur, located a little south of Keilir.

Eruption Litli Hrutur

The lava flow reached a volume of 50 m³/s in its early days, which suggests that this event is taking place on a greater scale than the two previous eruptions.

Since July 17th, the site is again accessible to visitors. The lava is still flowing with a strong rate of 10 to 12 m³/s in a southerly direction towards the old Meradalir flow. The new lava flow should also join that of Meradalir shortly.

In a few days, an impressive crater 25 meters high was formed, from which an impressive lava flow emerges. Lava from the eruption covers nearly 1 km² as of July 20th.

Since 07/19, the site of the eruption alternates between the days when it is authorized to go there and those when the authorities prohibit it because of toxic gases and weather conditions. The lava continues to flow with a large flow.

How to get to the Litli Hrútur eruption site

The new path is marked E, in yellow on the right of the map

As you can see, a new trail has been established to allow visitors to get close to the site of the eruption. On the map this is trail E. The starting point is the P2 car park (ISK 1,000), located along Road 427 which skirts the Reykjanes peninsula from the South. This is the car park established at the time of the previous eruption of 2022 (Meradalir), and is located for that site.

Eruption Litli Hrutur 

The new route is 9 km one way, so 18 km round trip from the P2 car park, and takes 6 to 8 hours to complete the hike on foot. So make sure you are prepared and in good shape. The first part of the hike is on a gravel road, but the last 2 km take you across the lava rocks.

Recommendations for the visit

Eruption Litli Hrutur

Keep in mind that the eruption site is unsafe! New erupting fissures/craters can open up just about anywhere without much notice. Whatever you do, stay clear of the orange area on the map below.

Eruption Litli Hrutur

Some recommendations from

  • Do not walk on the lava. Black surfaces can still be very hot. The black crust can be paper-thin over molten rock at temperatures near 1200°C
  • Good hiking shoes, warm clothing and wind and waterproof outerwear are essential. Weather conditions in Iceland can change very suddenly, even in summer.
  • Bring enough food/sandwiches and plenty of water to drink.
  • Stay on marked trails and keep away from valleys and low laying areas in the landscape where laval could be channelled.
  • Gas pollution is not visible and cannot be detected by scent. Gas can disperse from the visible smoke clouds and pollution can increase rapidly in any given area. If you feel any discomfort, leave the area immediately. Small children and dogs are highly sensitive to gas and smoke pollution and should not be brought to the area. Pregnant women should consult with their doctor before going.

Even if there is a new trail, the area can still be highly dangerous. You must do your own research on before visiting as  harmful gases may be present depending on the day or even time of day. Currently, from 07/13/23 to 07/15/23, access to the site was prohibited. It is most of the time reopened since 07/16/23.

Excursions to the eruption

Eruption Litli Hrutur

The 2023 eruption: Fagradalsfjall © Wirestock |

Finally, keep in mind that you can take a guided tour of the site, and even fly over the area in a helicopter.

Follow the eruption live