The end of the main hiking path to the ongoing eruption on Iceland’s Reykjanes peninsula was closed yesterday due to encroaching lava. The path ends on a hill overlooking the erupting crater that could soon become entirely surrounded by lava. The lookout was closed to prevent visitors from becoming trapped but not all are obeying authorities’ instructions to stay off the hill. Mbl.is reported first.
Harder to Approach Eruption
The hill that has been evacuated has served as the main lookout for eruption’s visitors. Visitors will be hard-pressed to find a better viewing spot for the spectacular event. “The longer the eruption continues, the harder it will be to come near this erupting crater,” stated Gunnar Schram, Chief Superintendent of Suðurnes Police. “That stands to reason as the lava spreads out. There are good vantage points there but this changes it a bit.”
Experts cannot say exactly when the hill will become fully surrounded by lava but they expect it to happen within the next few days. Anyone trapped on the hill would have to be rescued by helicopter, which is expensive, says Hjálmar Hallgrímsson, police officer and president of the local council of nearby Grindavík. Hjálmar says authorities may increase surveillance at the site to dissuade trespassers.
If the hill is surrounded but remains uncovered by lava, it will be known as an óbrennishólmi or óbrynnishólmi in Icelandic: an area of land surrounded by younger lava flows (literally “unburned island”). In English, geologists use the Hawaiian word kīpuka to describe such formations. The Geldingadalir eruption has been ongoing for over two months: experts say there is no way to know how long it will continue.