A journey to the Fimmvörduháls eruption in Iceland

mherbert

New Member
Aug 3, 2010
14
0
6
Norway
To experience a volcanic eruption has always been on our wish list for many years and this Easter we got our chance.
We travelled to Iceland on the Wednesday before Easter and rented a cabin in the beautiful Thorsmork valley, close to the eruption site. The next day we were up early and filled up with fuel, and found out that the eruption site had experienced several earthquakes and was closed by the authorities. However a we heard that a meeting at the local rescue centre will decide by 1200 if the area can be safe for visitors.
Fortunately we got the word that it was okay to approach the eruption site, so we started the drive up to the Myrdalsjokull Icecap which we needed to cross and then approach the eruption site from the east.
A drive across the Icecap is no easy matter and requires very special vehicles, with many modifications to be capable of driving on snow and ice. Weather conditions are often severe and an ability to navigate in zero visibility is a requirement for any travel in these areas. One of the essential modifications is large tyres, running at very low pressures to reduce the ground pressure, allowing the truck to float on the snow. Our extreme Toyota Land Cruiser 120’s were equipped with 44 inch tyres and special low gears for snow and ice conditions.
The trip up to the edge of the icecap was completed without any problems, and we were soon admiring the fantastic views of the coastline and the islands of Vestmannaeyjar offshore, as the weather was perfect. To the east we could also see the plume above the erupting volcano. We then dropped the pressures in the tyres to about 4 psi, which seem to suit the snow conditions, and we soon started the long climb to the top of the icecap at around 1500 metres, making sure that we avoided an area of know crevasses. We then started our turn towards the eastern edge of the icecap where the volcano was erupting.
As we came closer we started to appreciate the scale of the eruption, as we could see that a large area of the icecap was covered with black ash, and the lava erupting out of several vents was clearly visible.
Even from a distance of several kilometers it was an awe inspiring sight, which is some ways was somewhat threatening. On the other hand it was drawing you closer, to get just that bit better view.
Once we were closer we started to see lava shooting noisily up to 100 meters up in the sky, an absolutely fantastic sight. The air was also filled with small particles of glassy ash which for periods rained down on the truck. We could see that the lava was flowing onto the edge of the nearby glacier and producing large clouds of steam.
The lava was moving at some speed and looked unstoppable, making us very careful when approaching it. In fact from a subsequent visit we noticed that it had moved about 200 meters in a 24 hour period.
We then travelled down the glacier to get a view of the lava as it flowed into the Hvanngil canyon, which was a spectacular sight as the waterfall was complemented by several waterfalls of fiery lava. Standing on the edge of the canyon was almost unbearable due to the heat and fumes. Moving back somewhat it was the perfect place for a picnic, as the heat meant we were very comfortable in the -12C temperatures. This must be a pretty unique picnic site!
As night fell the show got even better, with the lava flow, and the lava eruptions becoming more intense against the darkness of the sky. In fact the sky and steam became so lit up by the flowing lava and the eruptions that they glowed a rather mystical pink colour. It was an unforgettable scene.
We all felt very privileged to be so close to this wondrous natural firework display. And to think this is just a small volcanic eruption.
Later in the evening we decided that we would need to make the trip back across the icecap, in order that we could get back to the cabin in time to have something to eat before midnight! As we drove through the darkness we noticed a green glow in the sky, the northern lights were starting to put on a display. It was almost as if they were trying to compete with the volcano show.
It was a perfect end to a very special day!

http://www.dreki.no


Mike
















 
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mherbert

New Member
Aug 3, 2010
14
0
6
Norway
By the way we can arrange self drive trips to Iceland through ArcticTrucks Experience there is a link on my Web page

http://www.dreki.no

You may even get to drive my truck or one of the other 44" modified Arctic Trucks.

Just returned from a weekend trip to Iceland which we orgainised through Arctic Trucks












 

fridayman

Well-Known Member
Jun 25, 2010
1,578
2
36
Brisbane, Australia
Garage
I've had a look at your website, specifically your photos - there must be at least 30 that I would love to use as a screensaver. Awesome pictures!
 
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