Iceland closes popular volcano to tourists following eruption

A tourist takes a picture of Mount Fagradalsfjall after its eruption
(Image credit: Marco Di Marco / AP Photo)

Officials in Iceland closed the Mount Fagradalsfjall volcano on Sunday following its eruption in an effort to keep tourists away.

Hundreds of Icelandic police "have closed off all major paths and parking lots near the volcano to prevent people from visiting," Hjördis Guðmundsdottir, an official with the Icelandic Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management, told ABC News. Guðmundsdottir added that search-and-rescue teams were on standby because it was difficult to close off all routes on the volcano.

Mount Fagradalsfjall erupted this past Monday after a series of earthquakes. It is one of Iceland's most active volcanoes, having erupted in both 2021 and 2022. Though it is in an uninhabited valley, it lies just 19 miles from the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik, making it a prime tourist destination.

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Despite the potential danger, thousands of tourists flocked to see the eruption, with more than 3,000 visitors to the volcano in the last seven days, according to the Icelandic Tourist Board. However, this number began dropping dramatically as just 143 people were counted at the volcano on Saturday.

The Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO) also released a new warning in conjunction with the volcano's closure. "Keep in mind that the eruption site is not a safe area," the IMO said in a press release, adding that "new erupting fissures/craters can open up anywhere without much notice."

The IMO warned of dangerously high levels of volcanic gases, which can "disperse from the smoke cloud and pollution can increase rapidly in an area." People were also urged not to walk on the hardened lava flows, because the surface crust "is very thin and underneath the temperature is [2100 degrees Fahrenheit] one is risking his/her life to save you — keep that in mind."

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Justin Klawans

Justin Klawans is a staff writer at The Week. Based in Chicago, he was previously a breaking news reporter for Newsweek, writing breaking news and features for verticals including politics, U.S. and global affairs, business, crime, sports, and more. His reporting has been cited on many online platforms, in addition to CBS' The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

He is also passionate about entertainment and sports news, and has covered film, television, and casting news as a freelancer for outlets like Collider and United Press International, as well as Chicago sports news for Fansided.