Volcanic mountains

Why hikers are clamoring to photograph a volcanic eruption in Iceland, despite the risks | Smart News

Lava rises from the volcano eruption in Iceland’s Meradalir Valley late on August 6.
Sergei Gapon/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Bursts of hot magma flow through Iceland’s Meradalir Valley after a volcanic eruption began last week. Its source is a massive crack the length of three football fields, according to Forbes’ Eric Mac.

Volcanic activity inspired more than 20,000 people to walk to the eruption site and soak up the views, according to Jeremie Richard of the France Media Agency. The volcano is on Iceland’s Reykjanes peninsula, located about 25 miles southwest of the capital, Reykjavik.

According to New York Times’ Michael Levenson, the Icelandic government, said in a statement that the “relatively small” eruption posed little risk to populated areas and critical infrastructure, and that fissures like this usually do not lead to large explosions or to columns of ash projected into the stratosphere. But the government still advised people to stay away from the site of the eruption.

Even if a rash seems safe to see at first, it won’t necessarily stay that way. “Eruptions can increase in intensity at any time, throwing not only molten lava but also large chunks of solid rock surprising distances,” writes Forbes.

Dozens of spectators in winter jackets and hats watch lava flow from a crack

Spectators watch lava flow from Iceland’s erupting volcano on August 10.

Photo by Jérémie Richard/AFP via Getty Images

Rashes can also release toxic gases, such as sulfur dioxide, which can cause health problems, for example. Forbes. According to Iceland Monitorpolice have banned children under 12 from visiting the site of the eruption, as the broadcasts pose a greater risk to young children.

But for intrepid hikers visiting the eruption, officials urged taking safety precautions. The Icelandic Meteorological Office warns that gaseous pollution at the site can exceed dangerous levels at any time and says it is safest for viewers to watch the eruption upwind. The office also suggests spectators move to higher ground when the winds are calm.

Hjordis Gudmundsdottir, spokesperson for the Icelandic Civil Protection Agency, told the Time that visitors should wear appropriate clothing and footwear for the five-hour hike to and from the eruption site. “It’s not just a walk in the park,” she says.

Three tourists suffered non-serious injuries while hiking to the site of the eruption last week, according to the Time. And the Iceland Monitor reported that two young children developed hypothermia while hiking with their parents over the weekend.

Iceland is home to more than 30 active volcanoes, and the country sits atop two tectonic plates divided by an underwater mountain range that releases magma, according to the Time.

Prior to last year, the Reykjanes Peninsula had gone almost 800 years without major volcanic activity, writes National Geographic Robin George Andrews. The eruption that interrupted the sequence began in 2021 and lasted about six months, writes Heather Handley, a volcanologist and geochemist at the University of Twente in the Netherlands. The conversation.

The new eruption has about five to ten times more magma flow than last year. It’s unclear how long this will last, but a new era of regular eruptions in the region could be underway. “This could herald the start of decades of occasional eruptions,” said Dave McGarvie, a volcanologist at Lancaster University in the UK. National geographic.