Laki is the name of the volcano that caused the infamous 1783 eruption that nearly wiped out Iceland as a nation. Lava and poisonous gas wiped out farms and livestock causing nationwide famine from which the country barely recovered.
The most devastating eruption in history
The 1783 eruption is the largest eruption in Icelandic history and the most devastating eruption in history, the death toll is immeasurable. Although Laki is dormant, it left huge evidence from the eruption.
The Lakagigar crater series is a popular attraction. The system erupted heavily over an eight month period from June 1783, pouring out over 42 billion tons of basalt lava. The eruption created the Eldhraun lava field, and clouds of poisonous gases that contaminated the soil. That lead to the death of over half of all livestock in Iceland and the destruction of crops. Inevitably this lead to famine which killed about 25% of Iceland‘s population.
The poisonous gases and ash clouds had a huge impact on the mainland, where crops fell, causing famine all over the northern hemisphere. Some scholar’s have speculated that the eruption and it’s horrible aftermaths played a huge role in the French revolution.
The effect of Laki eruption on global temperature
The eruption poured over 120 million tons of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere over the Northern hemisphere, causing crop failures in Europe. It is also believed that this caused droughts in Indoa and North Africa, not to mention the coldest winter in history in North America, killing millions, making the Laki eruption one of the mist devastating eruption in history.
Lakagigar stretches an impressive 25 kilometers (15.5 mi) of spectacular lava formations in bright red and black colors. Many of the craters are still steaming and the view from the top leaves many visitors speechless.
The craters are a part of the Grimsvotn volcano system, which includes the volcano Thordarhyrna, and lies between Myrdalsjokull glacier and Vatnajokull glacier.
The Grimsvotn volcano system is one of the most active volcano systems in Iceland.
Where to find Laki volcano and Lakagigar craters?
Laki is located on the southwest side of Vatnajokull National Park. It is close to the village of Kirkjubaejarklaustur on the south coast, which is where you drive from if you want to get to the area.
GPS: 64.070668 N, -18.237803 W