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17th April 2012
The deepest, darkest depths of Iceland's Thrihnukagigur volcano can now be explored through a new tour
Ever wondered what the inside of a volcano looks like? Curious adventurers can now delve into the magma chamber of Thrihnukagigur volcano, 30km from Iceland's capital Reykjavik. This unusual tour will be available for six short weeks from 15 June to 31 July 2012.
The fiery mountain has been dormant for more than 4,000 years and with no indication of another eruption happening any time soon, it is one of a few volcanoes in the world that is safe to explore this closely.
In most cases, the heart of a volcano is filled with lava, which subsequently cools and hardens, blocking the entrance. But at Thrihnukagigur, it is believed the lava solidified through the walls or quite simply drained back below the crust. The exposure of the magma chamber makes this a completely unique phenomenon to Thrihnukagigur.
The new tour includes a scenic hike to the volcano's summit. After, travellers will be winched past brilliantly coloured walls into the magma chamber, some 120m below the surface. A cable system has been installed (much like those used to clean the windows of skyscrapers) to accommodate no fewer than four daily tours.
Up to an hour will be spent in the magma chamber itself, and a further four to five hours will be spent learning about the volcano, walking across a lava field and gazing over the Reykjavik and the Reykjanes peninsula.
The tour is only open for a short period in order to protect the volcano's sensitive surroundings. An environmental impact assessment is currently underway to examine the implications that tourism might have on the underground phenomenon. If the study concludes that tourism is sustainable, a tunnel entrance will be built, complete with a viewing platform, by the end of 2014.
Nikki Rickett from tour operator Discover the World said that ever since the Eyjafjallajökull eruption interest in Iceland and volcanoes has risen.
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