Iceland – Into the volcano

The day after we arrived back in Reykjavik from the South Coast, we took a much shorter day-tour inside of a “dormant” volcano. It’s only about 30-45 minutes depending on “traffic” outside of Reykjavik. You can see the city from the top of the volcanic area.

Reykjavik from the volcano

Thríhnúkagígur Volcano

I believe our guide told us it was a 20 minute hike to the “base camp” of the volcano. I’m sure it took us about 30 minutes, but I enjoyed the hike despite the wind.

Hiking through the lava fields to the volcano

Thríhnúkagígur or Þríhnúkagígur (I am not going to try to pronounce it) is a unique volcano in that most volcanoes collapse or form a caldera after erupting. Instead, it is hollow inside and is now a tourist destination. Apparently it is the only volcano in the world that you can safely descend inside via an elevator.

Elevator in operation

Joe Versus the Volcano

Not only are you descending over 300 feet in what looks like repurposed mining equipment, but you are hooked into the elevator with a cable and clip. This is a composition I made of the descent and ascent to/from the inside.

Inside the Volcano

Our guide told us that vertigo is common when you are inside of the volcano. I did experience vertigo initially, but it subsided after a minute. Apparently vertigo occurs when you do not see any “vertical lines”.

You get to spend about 20-30 minutes inside of the volcano and see the colorful mineral deposits along the walls. There are many different minerals, but the most common were yellow (sulfur) and orange (iron).

The darker and deeper scars follow the pattern of how the eruption moved through the earth. It was very interesting to me visualizing a volcanic eruption that happened 4,000 years ago.

I highly recommend touring Thríhnúkagígur. It’s difficult to describe, and again, the pictures don’t do it justice.

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