FPV drone flies over boiling Iceland volcano

A volcano that has been sleeping peacefully for the last 800 has blown its crater in Iceland – and a drone was there to capture some incredible video footage of the eruption.

At 21:30 local time in Iceland on 19 March this year, one of Fagradalsfjall’s – a shield volcano with multiple prominences on the Reykjanes peninsula, about 40 kilometres from the capital Reykjavik – southern prominences in Geldingadalir started spilling lava effusively; the first known eruption on the peninsula in about 800 years.

Fagradalsfjall itself has been dormant for 6,000 years. But witness reports from Geldingadalir stated that a 600–700-metre-long fissure vent began ejecting lava, which covered an area less than one square kilometre.

This got one photographer piqued.

Identifying himself as a guy with a drone, Bjorn Steinbekk is a drone photographer and film maker based in the Icelandic capital, who has done work for clients in his home country, who include Icelandair, Promote Iceland, Lauf Cycles, Olís, Reitir, Herjolfur and Samskip shipping and Brim Seafood.

Steinbekk also filmed an international documentary about salmon fishing, which was due to being released early this year.

But Steinbekk may have had no idea that the video he short of a volcano oozing lava would make him a household name by the end of the day.

And it should too. The video starts near the foot of the Geldingadalsgos explosion, as Steinbekk’s new DJI FPV drone – which he recently purchased in the UK – follows a river of red-hot basic lava up to its source at the top where the fissure is. The pictures get more dramatic, as the drone flies right over the top of a crater sewing millions of molten rock. You can imagine how hot it is up there.

Although it did not stop him from flying over the crater, Steinbekk did think about what the scorching temperature would do to his drone.

“In the shot, where I basically flew through the crater and I saw the lava rocks break up, I really didn’t think I was gonna see my drone again,” the photographer told Channel 5 news. “But then it came down and kept connection. I have been thinking about it today, about how I felt (that his drone survived intact); I felt a little bit like when Liverpool won in Istanbul in 2005; and when we won the premier league last summer.

“I felt really, really good.”

The lava is still oozing today, albeit lethargically, and still with no danger to human life as the area is mostly uninhabited. There is a potential for sulphur dioxide pollution, but the latest eruptions will pose not widespread disruptions as did the volcanic ash that clouded the atmosphere following the eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull in March and April 2010, bringing air travel to a halt in Northern Europe, affecting ten million travellers.

Steinbekk say much of the feedback he has received about his viral video is from people inquiring about what happened to his drone after it flew so close to the liquid fire.

“The drone is here; it is totally healthy,” he said, indicating that the shots were totally worthy risking his brand-new acquisition. “If you really want to get that footage, then you really do not have to start thinking about the cost; you just need to really let go and take your chance.”

The latest volcanic eruption follows a series of earthquakes in the area – two of which reached magnitude 5.6 on the Richter Scale and caused minor damage to nearby homes – which started in December 2019 until March this year, triggering concerns that an eruption was imminent. The earthquakes were thought to have been triggered by dyke intrusions and magma moving under the peninsula.

In the three weeks prior to the eruption, more than 40,000 tremors were recorded by seismographs.


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