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HEKLA VOLCANo, iceland

Elevation: 4892 ft (1491 m)
Location: Southern Iceland
Lat. / Long: 64.0° N, 19.7° W
Volcano Type: Stratovolcano
Volcano Number: 1702-07


Introduction: Hekla volcano, Iceland


Simple volcanological map of Iceland showing Iceland's active volcanic rift-zones, related fissure systems and some important volcanoes.
Simple volcanological map of Iceland showing Iceland's active volcanic rift-zones, related fissure systems and some important volcanoes.

Iceland's most famous and historically most active volcano can best be described as an intermediate volcanic form between a crater row and a stratovolcano. It is located west of Iceland's SE volcanic rift-zone. Hekla erupts a magma type that is unique for Iceland, intermediate between highly silicic and andesitic composition. From surface deformation studies after the 1980 eruption, it has been concluded that its magma chamber is located around 8 km below the summit. Since the Middle Ages, Hekla's has been one of the most active volcanoes of the world, with recorded major eruptions in 1104, 1158, 1206, 1222, 1300, 1341, 1389, 1510, 1597, 1636, 1693, 1766, 1845, 1947, 1970, 1980, 1991 and 2000. Typically, at least the beginning parts of Hekla's eruptions are largely explosive. Some of these eruptions caused great damage, especially the eruptions in 1510, 1693 and 1766. Note that since 1970 the repose interval appears to have changed, becoming much shorter and quite regular, around 10 years, with respect to an approximately 50 years rhythm during the preceding centuries. Hekla has also had a number of large prehistoric but postglacial eruptions, producing vast amounts of tephra which repeatedly covered up to two thirds of the country with light-coloured tephra (i.e. 7000 B.P., 4500 B.P., 2900 B.P., A.D. 1104 and A.D. 1158).  The total volume of lava produced by Hekla in historical times is about 8 km3, and the total volume of tephra about 7 km3.

Mainly summarized from information from the Nordic Volcanological Institute.


Hekla's eruption of 26 Feb. - 8 March 2000

- Summary -



8 March 2000
As reported by  NORDVULC, the eruption is now considered to be over. The last weak volcanic activity occurred on 5 March, and the last tremor signal on 8 March. The eruption emplaced about 0.11 km3 of lava, mostly as flows covering an area of about 18 km2.

1 March 2000
As reported by the newspaper Morgunblašiš, the eruption has again increased in intensity. This time, ash was transported westwards and fell on Rejkjavik but did not cause damage. The area covered by lava flows is now estimated to be 16-18 km2

27 February 2000
In the evening of February 27 the main lava flow from the eruptive fissure was slowly advancing at a rate of some meters per hour. A more active lava stream emanates from three craters near the southern end of the eruptive fissure. On February 27 this lava stream was several km long and was advancing at a rate of about a meter per minute.

26 February 2000
Hekla volcano in South Iceland erupted after a repose interval of just 9 years on February 26, 2000 at 18:19 GMT. Initially, a 6-7 km long eruptive fissure opened up along most of the Hekla ridge. A discontinuous curtain of fire emanated from the whole fissure. A more than 10 km high ash plume formed within few minutes of the explosive beginning of the eruption. The ash was carried with light winds towards north and most of it fell in uninhabited areas in the interior of Iceland, but a small amount of ash fell in inhabited areas in North Iceland. After the first hour the activity gradually declined and soon became predominantly effusive.

map over recent lava flows at Hekla
map of post-1970 lava flows from Hekla volcano.


Hekla with the fresh lava flows seen from the air (above), showing mild steaming and the still active lava flow from the base of the eruptive fissure on 4 March 2000 (below). More photos on this link

Eruptive fissure of Hekla and lava of 26 Feb 2000. 

Eruption cloud of 26 Feb 2000. 

Eruption cloud of 26 Feb 2000.
Photos from Morgunblašiš, Iceland's most read newspaper.


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© Tom Pfeiffer, page last modified on 25 July 2003.