Journey towards the centre of the Earth

Travel they say “broadens the mind” so a random conversation with a fellow group member whilst travelling around Israel back in May leads us to today and an opportunity to go inside a volcano. We are descending 400ft inside the Þríhnúkagígur volcano to be precise. Situated 13 miles outside Reykjavik, within the protected area of Bláfjöll Country Park, it’s dormant and last erupted over 4,000 years ago. So fingers crossed it doesn’t choose today to wake up.

The magma chamber is often referred to as the heart of a volcano. It’s there that the liquid rock waits to find a way through to the surface, causing a volcanic eruption. In most cases, the crater is usually closed after the eruption by cold, hard lava.

Þríhnúkagígur volcano is a rare exception to this, because the magma in the chamber seems to have disappeared. It’s believed that the magma solidified in the walls or quite simply retreated to the depths of the earth. We walk 3km each way over a lava path in rather fetching fluorescent rain coats.

We’re lowered into the volcano in an open sided cradle that takes 6 minutes to descend to the bottom. As we descend we can view up close the layers of magma that make up the chamber. At the bottom it’s chilly and we’re allowed 30 minutes to clamber over huge volcanic boulders whilst marvelling at the enormity of the chamber. We ascend absolutely beaming and walk back in the rain bowled over by what we’ve seen.

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