What Not to Do Near an Active Volcano Skip to content

What Not to Do Near an Active Volcano

Many people wander whether the eruption in Grímsvötn will be anything like the Eyjafjallajökull eruption earlier this year. The answer to that question is simple: No.

Grímsvötn is a very active volcano, erupting every five to ten years on the average. The eruptions are small, far away from anything and in olden times nobody noticed most of them. The river floods were quite visible, but not the eruptions.


But even though the eruptions are not dangerous that does not mean that you can’t get scared. Our journalist Bart Cameroon was on the scene in 2004 and wrote the following in his Daily life column:

“Another piece of common sense: don’t get into a tiny airplane and fly over an active volcano.

Grímsvötn mountain is in its fifth day of eruption. On day two, the photographer announced he had booked a plane. I announced that it sounded charming, but that I don’t have to drink Draino to find out it’s a bad idea.

Then there were the elections in the US.

Then I was in a plane much smaller than most subcompact cars staring down at a volcano.

Here’s something I didn’t know: volcanic eruptions, or at least this one, are continuous explosions. They are very scary. The instinct, when staring down at a mass of rock and soot being spewed from a crater, is to get away.

Photos: Páll Stefánsson/Iceland Review

As my time over the volcano continued, I continued to fail common sense tests. For example, as I am double plus good smart, I know that when you go up in altitude the temperature goes down. I also know that glaciers are cold. Therefore, one would not expect me to have been sitting in a very small airplane with the windows open. But I did.

Because photos really don’t work when you take them through the glass.

Anyway, the lesson for the day was that sometimes forgetting about common sense is worthwhile. Kind of. I write this at home, having had to cancel a concert because somehow, while flying in an open plane over a volcano wearing a very thin coat– there wasn’t room for anything larger– I caught a cold. BC”

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