It is eight within the morning and pitch darkish as we climb into the Iceland coastguard helicopter. This far north, it will not be gentle for hours.
The darkness could make the pilots’ jobs more durable – counting on night time imaginative and prescient helmets to navigate – but it surely helps the remainder of us.
For as we strategy the positioning of the eruption, all we are able to make out is faint orange smudges of sunshine.
Simply 72 hours in the past we might have been flying over a two-mile-long curtain of fireplace: Lava being compelled 40-50 metres into the air by an enormous chamber of magma lower than a kilometre under the floor.
Just a few hours earlier than we took off, webcams confirmed a couple of cones of lava have been nonetheless sputtering away within the darkness.
But it surely’s now like wanting into the embers of a dying hearth.
We are available in for a precarious touchdown on a hilltop subsequent to the lava area, guided by a highlight to seek for even floor.
The thought is to present seismologist Dr Kristin Jonsdottir, from Iceland‘s meteorological workplace, a extra steady view of the lava – not that it adjustments what was apparent from the air.
“It is an enormous shock the lava exercise has stopped,” she tells me, as we peer down on the nearly darkish lava area.
The exercise of the eruption has been slowing, however few anticipated it to cease so shortly given the preliminary surge of lava: at one level, equal to 4 occasions the circulate of water down the Thames in London.
But it surely’s excellent news for the primary responders and emergency planners who it now appears like will get a break for Christmas in any case.
It is also some aid for the 4,000 evacuated residents of Grindavik, who have been allowed again to their properties for a couple of hours at this time.
Large cracks appeared within the city final month as rising magma lifted up the bottom under. There have been considerations it may very well be consumed by a river of lava.
The eruption stopped a couple of kilometres away, sparing the city’s energy plant and the massively standard Blue Lagoon hydrothermal spa.
However there’s little prospect of residents being again of their residence earlier than Christmas.
Some aren’t certain they even wish to return. We met Sigridur Jonasdottir packing up her final remaining possessions.
“I do not suppose I am going to come again,” she tells me.
After earthquake injury, seven weeks of evacuation, and the specter of rivers of fireplace working down the hill into city, she does not imagine she’ll be capable to keep in her home – or promote it.
The volcano could go silent for hundreds of years as soon as once more however for her the longer term is just too unsure.