Laki Craters

Laki craters or Lakagígar Craters are a 25 kilometers long volcanic fissure with numerous volcanic craters. It is part of a volcanic system that lies between Mýrdalsjökull and Vatnajökull glaciers.

Dark History

This system erupted for over 5 months during 1783-84 and had devastating consequences which led to famine whereas the enormous poisonous clouds killed over 50% of Iceland’s livestock population. This eruption which is also referred to as Skaftáreldar and its aftermath is believed to have been one of the most devastating volcanic eruption in the planet in historical times and the volume of lava issued from the craters is the greatest from a single eruption on Earth in more that thousand years. It is believed to have caused the death of over six million people globally due to temperature drops which caused crop failures in Europe and even further away and led to famine worldwide. Dark clouds of volcanic ash and toxic gases were carried with wind all across Iceland and further to the European continent and further. It blocked sunlight and the following years were extremely cold in all of the Northern Hemisphere, where temperatures dropped considerably and caused extensive crop failures both in Iceland as well as in other countries. It is believed that growing discontent of French farmers had serious consequences a few years later. The farmers had asked their king to lower taxes due to the crop failures, but his refusal to do so, eventually led to the French Revolution a few years later. Both the ashes and toxic gases threatened lives of both people and livestock in Iceland and thousands of people perished. Iceland was under Danish rule at the time and the situation was so bad in Iceland that the Danish king seriously considered to evacuate the entire population of Iceland to Denmark.


This did not come to be, but instead, reindeer were brought to Iceland from Norway, in the hope that the Icelanders would be able to use them like Sami people did in the Northern parts of Scandinavia. The descendants of those reindeer are still living wild in the eastern part of the Icelandic highlands. The lava field from the eruption is extensive and covers about 600 square kilometers.


There is a rough about 90 kilometers long gravel road to Laki Craters from the main circular highway. This road is only passable by 4x4 vehicles with a high road clearance during middle of summer and should not be attempted by small 4x4 cars.

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