Mapping one of the largest eruptions in Iceland’s history

On 29 August 2014, a small fissure eruption started in the Holuhraun lava field, just north of Vatnajökull ice cap in the central highlands of Iceland. That small eruption lasted only for few hours, but was the first sign that one of the largest lava eruptions in Iceland’s history was underway. About two days later, a larger lava eruption started in a fissure in Holuhraun that lasted until 28 February 2015, producing 85 km² of lava with an average thickness of 16m.

Only two weeks after the eruption ended, the Svarmi team traveled to Holuhraun with earth scientists from University of Iceland to map and measure the extent, shape and volume of the lava. Of particular interest to the scientists were the craters created by the lava flow.


Mapping of eruption fissure


University of Iceland


Fixed wing drone and a high resolution RGB camera

Hundreds of high-resolution RGB, NIR and red-edge images

Both high-resolution RGB images as well as thermal (NIR and red-edge) images were taken of the lava field shortly after the eruption ceased. Thermal images allow for quantification of surface heat. 

3D model of the erupted lava

Hundreds of high-resolution images were stitched together to give a 3D model of the area, which can be used to estimate volume and area of the eruption.