Sundhnukagigarod eruption in Reykjanes

Icelandic Pronunciation Guide Surrounding the Reykjanes Peninsula Eruptions

A fissure eruption started on 18 December 2023 at Sundhnúkagigar, an area between the Blue Lagoon and the town of Grindavík in southwest Iceland. With all eyes on the eruption, it quickly became apparent that pronouncing the latest eruption site was a challenge for those outside of Iceland, much like the Eyjafjallajökull eruption of 2010. Icelanders chuckled when international news anchors struggled to pronounce Eyjafjallajökull, and it was a similar story with Sundhnúkagigar. Here is a handy guide on key pronunciations that will have you rattling off eruption sites like the locals. Below are a few need-to-know sites.

Sundhnúkagígaröð

Sundhnukagigarod eruption in Reykanes

Sundhnúkagígaröð is an area located near the Blue Lagoon and the town of Grindavík. After weeks of earthquake swarms and the evacuation of Grindavík in early November 2023, the fissure eruption began on 18 December and lasted until 21 December. Unlike other recent eruptions, there was a lot of concern that the small town of Grindavík would be destroyed. Thankfully, that did not happen.

"Sund-hnú-ka-gí-gar-öð"
"Sund" like 'sund' in 'sundown'
"hnú" with a soft 'h', similar to 'new' in English
"ka" as in 'car'
"gí" with a hard 'g', like 'geese'
"gar" as in 'garlic'
"öð" is pronounced like 'uth' in 'booth'
[ˈsʏntn̥uːkaˈcíːɣarœð]

Sýlingarfell

Sundhnukagigarod eruption in Reykanes near Sylingarfell

Sýlingarfell is a 197-metre mountain in the vicinity of the 18-21 December 2023 eruption on the Reykjanes peninsula. There was an earthquake swarm in the area before the eruption. This mountain has been a popular hiking site when there isn't a volcano erupting nearby.

"Seel-ing-ar-fell"
"Sý" like 'see' in English
"ling" as in 'lingering'
"ar" as in 'far'
"fell" as in 'fell down'
[ˈsiːliŋkarfɛtl̥]

Þorbjörn

View over Mount Thorbjörn

Þorbjörn is a volcanic mountain of 243 m next to the town of Grindavík on the Reykjanes peninsula. The world-famous Blue Lagoon can be easily seen from the summit.

"Thor-Byrun"
"Þór" like "Thor"
"Bj" like 'b' blended with a soft 'y', like 'by' in 'bygone.'
"örn" like 'urn' in 'burn,' but with more emphasis on rounding the lips.
[ˈθɔrˌpjœrtn]

Meradalir

The Meradalir volcano is about 50km southeast of Reykjavík and is the site of the 2022 eruption on the Reykjanes Peninsula.

"Meh-ra-dah-leer"
"Me" as in 'merry'
"ra" as in 'rah'
"dal" like 'doll'
"ir" like 'leer'
[ˈmɛːraˌtaːlɪr]

Fagradallsfjall

Fagradalfjall eruption

Fagradalsfjall is the name for the broader volcanic system covering an area 5 kilometres wide and 16 kilometres long between the Svartsengi and Krýsuvík systems. Fagradalsfjall is also an active tuya volcano formed during the last glacial period on the Reykjanes Peninsula. It is the site of 2021-2022 volcanic eruptions.

"Fah-gra-dahls-fyahl"
"Fag" like 'fag' in English
"ra" as in 'rah'
"dalls" like 'dolls'
"fjall" with 'fj' sounding like 'fy' in 'defy' and 'all' as in 'ball'
[ˈfaɣraˌtalsfjatl̥]

Geldingadalir

Eruption in Geldingadalir

The Geldingadalur valley was the site of eruptions in 2021-2022 as lava spewed from Fagradalsfjall volcano, and in July 2023, another eruption took place close to the mountain Litli-Hrutur.

"Gel-ding-a-dah-leer"
"Gel" like 'gel' in 'gelatin'
"ding" as in 'dinging'
"a" like 'ah'
"dal" like 'doll'
"ir" like 'leer'
[ˈcɛltiŋkaˌtaːlɪr]

Where Can You Learn About Volcanoes in Iceland?

Perlan Museum in Reykjavik

Perlan's Forces of Nature exhibition allows guests to feel the power of volcanoes, earthquakes, and geothermal energy that powers the island. Guests will learn that volcanoes form when heat and pressure build up beneath the earth's surface. The earth's weak points tend to be along fault lines where tectonic plates converge or diverge, as in Iceland's case.

Perlan's exhibition shows that volcanic activity in Iceland is so diverse that researchers typically speak of "volcanic systems" rather than individual volcanoes. The island has 30 active volcanic systems, each with many types of volcanoes.

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