After 15 months of increasingly intense and disruptive earthquakes on Iceland’s Reykjanes Peninsula, the region finally let off some pressure. On March 19, lava roared out of the ground in the uninhabited valley of Geldingadalur, marking the first time in 800 years that this southwesterly strip of land has been rocked by an eruption.
Volcanologists are thrilled, but this spectacle isn’t just an opportunity to explore Iceland’s fiery underworld. It’s also a window into another world entirely. “The eruption is, in my view, a fantastic analogue for Mars,” said Christopher Hamilton, a planetary scientist at the University of Arizona.