Visitors Ignoring Reynisfjara Closure, Despite Ongoing Risk Skip to content

Visitors Ignoring Reynisfjara Closure, Despite Ongoing Risk

By Larissa Kyzer

The rockslide that took place at Reynisfjara beach in South Iceland has now been measured at 100 m [328 ft] wide and 50 m [164 ft] in length, running from the base of Reynisfjall mountain and out into the sea. RÚV reports that the largest boulders on the scene were measured at 3 m [9.8 ft] in diameter. The overall volume of the scree has been estimated at 25,000 cubic m [882,867 cubic ft].

The rockslide having been so enormous, it’s considered quite a bit of luck that no one was injured in the event. Close to the village of Vík í Mýrdal, Reynisfjara’s black sand beach is one of the most popular traveller destinations in Iceland and home to the Reynisdrangar sea stacks as well as basalt columns inside a cave on the beach. Strong undercurrents and so-called ‘sneaker waves’ make the beautiful destination a dangerous one, too, however, and despite prominent signage and travel advisories, a number of visitors have come to harm on the beautiful shore. In the most serious instances, an American woman died in May 2007 when caught by a wave, and a Chinese man lost his life when he was swept out to sea in February 2016.

It is, then, unfortunate but not unexpected that police in South Iceland has been forced to monitor the beach and kick out visitors who have chosen to ignore police tape indicating that the area is closed for the time being. Inspector Sigurður Sigurbjörnsson said that he found around thirty tourists in a very dangerous spot on the beach near the rockslide on Wednesday, just a day after the event took place.

Conditions are being monitored at Reynisfjara and it is expected that there will be another rockslide on Reynisfjall mountain in the coming days. Visible fissures on the mountain’s surface are being monitored, but it’s hard to predict precisely when the next rockslide will occur. Iceland’s Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management plans to keep the beach east of Hálsanefshelli cave closed at least until today, Friday, August 23, when a decision will be made about what – possibly permanent – precautions are needed going forward.

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