Are you looking for a vacation destination hotter than a volcano and cooler than a polar bear's toenails? Look no further than Lakagigar in Iceland! This unique geological site is a must-visit for anyone seeking adventure and a glimpse into the Earth's fiery belly.
Lakagigar is a volcanic fissure system located in the southern part of Iceland. It is known for its spectacular views and impressive geological features. The area includes basaltic lava formations, hot springs, and other remnants of past eruptions.
In this blog post, we'll examine the Lakagigar volcano and explore its history, geology, and how to visit it. So grab your hiking boots, and let's get started!
Overview of Lakagigar Volcano
Lakagigar Volcano is a volcanic fissure in the western part of Vatnajökull National Park, Iceland. It's not your average volcano - it's a series of 130 giant craters formed during one of the world's largest mixed eruptions in recorded history! The eruption began in 1783 and lasted 8 months, spewing 42 billion tons of basalt lava and some tephra.
The resulting haze from the eruption was reported as far away as Europe and even North America! The Laki fissure and Grímsvötn volcano were responsible for this massive event. Lakagigar Volcano is unique compared to other Icelandic volcanoes because it is not just one large mountain or cone-shaped structure. Instead, it consists of a 27-kilometer-long (17 miles) eruptive fissure with 130 giant craters.
This makes it quite different from other Icelandic volcanoes like Eyjafjallajokull, which are more traditional in shape. The Lakagigar crater series is now a popular attraction for travelers who want to explore this geological feature up close.
Historical Eruption of Lakagigar Volcano
The historical eruption of Lakagigar began on June 8th, 1783, and lasted 8 months, spewing 14 cubic kilometers (3.3 cubic miles) of basaltic lava and tephra. The effects of the Lakagígar explosion were felt far beyond Iceland. The haze from the eruption was reported as far away as Russia and China.
At the same time, the toxic gases released caused crop failures across Europe and North America. In Iceland, up to 20% of the population died due to famine or respiratory diseases caused by poisonous gases. The global climate was also affected by this eruption. The sulfur dioxide released during the eruption caused temperatures to drop significantly worldwide. It led to colder winters and shorter growing seasons in some areas.
It is also believed that the French Revolution was partially caused by the crop failures and famine resulting from the Lakagígar eruption. This phenomenon is known as "Laki Winter." It has been linked to extreme weather events such as droughts, floods, and famines in many parts of the world. The Laki fissure system created by this historic eruption is still active today, making it one of Iceland's most important geological sites.
How To Get to Lakagigar Volcano
Getting to Lakagigar can be a bit tricky. Due to its remote location in the Icelandic Highlands, the only way to get there is via a 4x4 vehicle as you need to take Iceland's Highland road F206. The closest town is Kirkjubaejarklaustur, which can be reached by car from Reykjavik. From there, you'll need to drive about 50 kilometers, which takes 2 hours to get to Lakagigar.
Here is some helpful information you need to know before embarking on the journey:
- The most common way to get to Lakagigar is by 4x4. You can rent a 4x4 in Reykjavik, drive to Kirkjubaejarklaustur for approximately 3 and a half hours, and then head to the volcano.
- If you don't have a 4x4 and don't want to rent one, several tour operators offer guided day trips in super Jeeps to Lakagigar from Kirkjubaejarklaustur.
- Flying drones is prohibited in the national park, but you can apply for a drone permit 10 days before.
- Be sure to dress warmly and wear sturdy shoes, as the terrain around Lakagigar is rugged and often slippery due to snow and ice.
- Bring water and snacks, as there are no facilities in the volcano's vicinity.
What To See and Do at Lakagigar Volcano
Once you've arrived, there are plenty of things to do and explore. Here are just a few of the highlights:
- Hike the Laki Craters: Visit the Laki Crater, the largest crater in the series. It is about 300 meters (984 feet) wide, 100 meters (328 feet) deep, and 820 meters (2690 feet) high.
- Discover Ancient Volcanic Features: The area around the Lakagigar volcano is full of volcanic features formed during its eruption. These include lava tubes, magma chambers, and other geological formations.
- Take in the Scenery: Enjoy breathtaking views from Langisjór Lake, created by lava flows from Lakagígar during its eruption. It's an excellent spot for photography and sightseeing, with an opportunity to witness the breathtaking beauty of Iceland's volcanic nature.
- Explore Grímsvötn volcano: Hike to Grímsvötn volcano and admire its stunning glaciers. It is located approximately 58 kilometers (36 miles) from Lakagígar. It is one of the most active volcanoes in Iceland, with eruptions every decade or so.
If you're into volcanoes, we recommend reading our article about Iceland's Volcanoes. It is filled with helpful information about the volcanoes in Iceland, including where to find them.
A Unique Combination of Beauty and Danger
Lakagigar is an awe-inspiring volcanic site that captures the unique combination of beauty and danger. Its eruption in 1783 caused global temperatures to drop, crop failures, famines, and extreme weather events across multiple continents. Today it is a reminder of the power of nature's forces and its indelible mark on human history.
With rugged terrain, breathtaking views from Langisjór Lake, magma chambers, lava tubes, and Grímsvötn volcano nearby - all accessible via 4x4 vehicles or guided tours. Lakagigar offers something for everyone who appreciates Iceland's incredible natural landscape.