From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Askja caldera in 1984
Highest point
Elevation1,516 m (4,974 ft)[1]
Coordinates65°01′48″N 16°45′00″W / 65.03000°N 16.75000°W / 65.03000; -16.75000Coordinates: 65°01′48″N 16°45′00″W / 65.03000°N 16.75000°W / 65.03000; -16.75000
Askja is located in Iceland
Parent rangeDyngjufjöll
Mountain typecaldera
Last eruptionOctober to December 1961
Víti geothermal lake at Askja
Askja and Víti (in the foreground)

Askja ([ˈasca] (listen)) is an active volcano situated in a remote part of the central highlands of Iceland. The name Askja refers to a complex of nested calderas within the surrounding Dyngjufjöll [ˈtiɲcʏˌfjœtl̥] mountains, which rise to 1,510 m (4,954 ft), askja meaning box or caldera in Icelandic.[2]


The region is only accessible for a few months of the year. Being situated in the rain shadow to the northeast of the Vatnajökull glacier, the area receives only about 450 mm of rainfall annually.


The area was used by NASA during training for the Apollo program to prepare astronauts for the lunar missions. Their main objective in Askja was to study geology. The Astronaut Monument in Húsavík lists the 32 astronauts who participated.[3][4]


Askja was virtually unknown until the subplinian eruption which started on March 28, 1875, followed by the devastating phreatoplinian explosion on March 29, 1875.[5] Especially in the Eastfjords of Iceland, the ashfall was heavy enough to poison the land and kill livestock. Ash, or tephra from this eruption was wind-blown to Norway, Sweden, Germany and Poland. The eruption triggered a substantial wave of emigration from Iceland. Another less well-known eruption, called Askja-S, occurred in the early Holocene, ca 11,000 years ago. Tephra from this eruption has been found in south-east Sweden, Northern Ireland and north Norway and recently as far south as Romania, which makes it one of the most far-travelled Icelandic tephras. The last eruption of Askja was in 1961.

The outer caldera of Askja, representing a prehistoric eruption, is about 50 km², and there is evidence of other later caldera-forming events within it. The main crater floor lies at about 1,100 m.

In June 2010, Volcano expert Hazel Rymer said seismic activity was increasing at Askja.[6] The increased earthquake activity was located to the northeast of the central volcano, in the direction of Herðubreið. It was ruled out that any activity from Eyjafjallajökull was responsible for the increase in activity at Askja. The news came as scientists continue to watch Katla. In early April 2012 it was noted that the lake in the caldera was totally clear of ice, which usually does not happen until in June or July in a normal year. It was believed that increased geothermal activity in the volcano is heating the lake. Travel in the area was restricted until further research could be carried out.[7]

In early September 2021, GPS and Satellite data showed that an inflation at the rate of five cm per month, most likely attributed to magma intrusion, of the caldera had started in August.[8] An Article published on September 9th from the Icelandic Meteorological Office(IMO) stated the Aviation Color Code was upgraded from "Green" to "Yellow" due to the changes.[9] The Article also says, "Next week IMO and the Institute of Earth Sciences (UÍ) will potentiate the monitoring network around Askja to allow a better coverage and surveillance of the volcano."

Öskjuvatn lake[edit]

Öskjuvatn is a large lake that fills much of the smaller caldera resulting from the 1875 eruption. Its surface lies about 50 m below the level of the main caldera floor and covers about 12 km². When the lake originally formed it was warm, but today it is frozen over for most of the year. Öskjuvatn is the second deepest lake in Iceland at 220 m deep.[10]

Missing scientists[edit]

In 1907, the German scientists Walter von Knebel and Max Rudloff visited Askja to study the caldera. While exploring Öskjuvatn in a small boat, they disappeared without a trace. Von Knebel's fiancée Ina von Grumbkow led an expedition to search for them, but no indication of what happened to them was ever found. Recent observations on the effects of a landslide, on 21 July 2014, has led to renewed speculation that the scientists were killed by a similar sudden event, a massive wave similar to the one estimated to be 30 meters high seen in 2014.[11]

Sights and tourism in the area[edit]

Drekagil canyon

The Dyngjufjöll mountains which surround the Askja caldera, also contain the Drekagil [ˈtrɛːkaˌcɪːl̥], the canyon of dragons. Within 25km and 40km of Askja, are two other volcanic systems: Herðubreið and Kverkfjöll.

Askja is a popular tourist destination. There are two mountain huts and a campsite at Dreki [ˈtrɛːcɪ], by Drekagil, which is about 100 km by a 4x4 F-road, from the Icelandic ring-road. The road continues 8 km up from Dreki into the Askja caldera. It is a walk of about 2.5 km from the car park to Öskjuvatn and Víti [ˈviːtɪ]. The roads are usually only open for about three to four months, from late June until early October.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Askja". Global Volcanism Program. Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 2010-12-11.
  2. ^ See e.g.: Stóra Tölvuorðabókin. Úfgáfa 6.0
  3. ^ "Apollo astronauts revisit training area in Iceland and explore a new lava flow - The Exploration Museum". Archived from the original on 2019-04-02. Retrieved 2015-08-09.
  4. ^ "Barnabörn Armstrongs afhjúpuðu minnisvarða". Retrieved 2015-08-09.
  5. ^ Hartley, Margaret E.; Thordarson, Thor (2013-07-29). "The 1874-1876 volcano-tectonic episode at Askja, North Iceland: Lateral flow revisited". Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems. 14 (7): 2286–2309. Bibcode:2013GGG....14.2286H. doi:10.1002/ggge.20151. ISSN 1525-2027. S2CID 53587010.
  6. ^ Emma Pryer (2010-06-10). "Volcano expert warns of another Icelandic eruption". Retrieved 7 October 2014.
  7. ^ "Photos: Iceless Iceland Volcano Lake Causes Speculation". Iceland Review. Retrieved 7 October 2014.
  8. ^ "Land rís við Öskju | Fréttir".
  9. ^ "Uncertainty level declared for the ongoing uplift at Askja volcano | News". Icelandic Meteorological office. Retrieved 2021-09-09.
  10. ^ "Jökulsárlón now Iceland's deepest Lake". Iceland Review. Archived from the original on 29 March 2012. Retrieved 7 October 2014.
  11. ^ "Old Askja Case Solved? (ESA)". Iceland Review. Archived from the original on 12 October 2014. Retrieved 7 October 2014.

External links[edit]

Photos and videos[edit]

Scientific papers[edit]