OK, I guess Icelanders are . . . different!


Ask the average American what he or she would be doing in the event of a nearby volcanic eruption, and I suppose the answers would include “Panic!”, “Run like hell!”, or “Pray”.  In Iceland, apparently, it’s “None of the above”.  Its residents appear to regard a new-born volcano as an excuse for a road trip to see it for themselves – and would you believe their volcanologists apparently view red-hot lava as an opportunity for a cookout?

The BBC reports:

Thousands have flocked to a volcano in Iceland which erupted near the capital, Reykjavik.

Lava started to burst through a crack in Mount Fagradalsfjall on Friday evening, in the first eruption of its kind in more than 800 years.

The site was initially blocked off, but from Saturday afternoon people were allowed to make the trek.

“It’s absolutely breath-taking,” Ulvar Kari Johannsson, a 21-year-old engineer, told the AFP news agency.

“It smells pretty bad. For me what was surprising was the colours of the orange: much, much deeper than what one would expect,” he added.

Scientists at the foot of the volcano were filmed cooking sausages on its lava as they studied the eruption.

There’s more at the link, including several photographs of the crowd of onlookers.

My initial reaction was to ask my wife, “What about the food hygiene aspects of cooking hot dogs on bare naked rock?”  Miss D. just rolled her eyes at me, and pointed out that the temperature of that bare naked rock was so high that no self-respecting germ could survive on it – so why was I worrying?  I could only nod in agreement, and laugh.

Where most of us would be ducking and covering, or headed as fast as we could go in the other direction, the Icelanders treat a new volcano as an excuse for a holiday.  Good for them – as long as it doesn’t really blow its top and incinerate them all, along with their hot dogs!



  1. I've been there a few times for business, interesting people to deal with. Remember these are the descendants of those Vikings who couldn't get on with other Vikings!

  2. When Mt St Helen's blew, back in the 80s, people didn't panic, they evacuated because they were told it would kill them. One old fellow stayed and died on the grounds that he had spent his whole life in his home on the mountain and if it was time to go, it was time to go.

    People visit the volcanoes in Hawaii on a daily basis. Did it myself as a kid.

    Yellowstone National Park is the top of a volcano and millions of people go there every year.

    So no, Icelanders aren't any different from Americans. The volcano is presumably safe otherwise they wouldn't allow tourists to cruise up and watch it. If it gets more dangerous they will presumably issue evacuation orders. Volcanoes are pretty predictable these days.

  3. Also, from what I understand the island has basically placed itself under quarantine for the past year, so they're probably bored out of their minds.

  4. If one let’s go and yo can see it you cannot run fast enough to get away so might as well enjoy it while you can

  5. Ketchup on hot dogs proves they have descended from barbarians.

    Can't we air lift pickle relish, sauerkraut, chili and spicy brown mustard to these poor people? It's for the children!


  6. The entire island is the result of volcanic action and remains quite geologically active. A quick google search shows 30 active volcanoes and an eruption every 5 years in Iceland. The Icelanders I knew when I was there in the early 70’s would probably have been more curious than scared.

  7. There may not be germ issues, but there are some nasty chemicals that come up with the lava that would concern me!

  8. I live close enough to Yellowstone to treat it as a day trip. I understand that if it blows they give our town 20-30 minutes to survive. My sister's town is a tad closer and would have fewer than five minutes before it's a wasteland. We even had neighbors die in the 1959 Yellowstone quake so the danger is a bit more apparent. Chances are, however, that I'll die of old age if some disease doesn't kill me first.
    Reading doom and gloom stories about Yellowstone's "killer volcano" is always amusing. Note, its last eruption was some 640,000 years ago.

  9. It's a pretty tame volcano as those things go, rather like Kilauea. There are other Icelandic volcanoes best watched from quite a few miles away.

  10. Sherm:
    IIRC, 640k years is near the expected window for the next eruption. Probably within 20k years at most. When that blows, the world will have a few years long wintertime to commemorate it.

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