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 devastating Laki eruptions
The 1783 eruption is the largest eruption in Icelandic history. 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. Some scholar’s have speculated that the eruption and it’s horrible aftermaths played a huge role in the French revolution.
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.
Where is Laki and Lakagigar?
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