COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – A volcano in Iceland spewing lava into the sky since it erupted last Friday could continue its spectacular display for years, potentially becoming a new tourist attraction on the island known for its natural wonders.
Thousands of Icelanders have flocked to the eruption site on the Reykjanes Peninsula, some 30 kilometers southwest of the capital, hoping to be in awe of the rare lava fountains and even cook in the scorching magma crust.
Drone footage filmed over the crater shows molten lava bubbling and gushing up the sides of the volcano.
“It’s a perfect tourist eruption,” University of Iceland volcanology professor Thorvaldur Thordarson told Reuters.
“However, with the warning, don’t get too close.”
To cope with the backlog of visitors, Icelandic authorities established a 3.5-kilometer (2.2-mile) hiking route to the site of the eruption and are patrolling the area to prevent bystanders from venturing into dangerous areas. polluted by volcanic gases.
“People were walking from different directions into the area,” Agust Gunnar Gylfason, project manager for the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management, told Reuters.
Gylfason estimated that more than 10,000 people had ventured to the site since Friday night, some of whom had needed rescue due to severe weather and traveling without enough food or suitable clothing.
Since the initial eruption, lava has steadily seeped from the volcano at a rate of between 5 and 10 cubic meters per second, Thordarson said, a flow strong enough to ensure that the lava doesn’t solidify and close the fissure. For now.
“If it falls below three cubic meters, the eruption is very likely to stop,” Thordarson said.
He compared the lava flow to that of the Pu’u ‘O’o eruption in Hawaii, which began in 1983 and continued to erupt for 35 years.
“It could end tomorrow or it could continue in a few decades.”
Reporting by Nikolaj Skydsgaard; Edited by Alexandra Hudson