Tourists in Iceland getting up close and personal with live volcanoes have been called out as reckless risk-takers who are encouraging unsafe travel antics amongst fellow explorers.
People often make silly decisions whilst travelling. You only need to look at our plethora of stories from Bali — including the man who pulled a ‘Donald Duck‘ and the Aussie deported for a wild street fight — to know that. However, standing metres away from the crater of a live, spitting volcano might take the biscuit for travel’s stupidest trend of the year…
A post on Reddit earlier today sparked outrage among commentators as it contained a video of tourists doing exactly that: standing mere metres away from an aggressively active volcano standing amongst Iceland’s majestic landscape…
WATCH: Tourists get dangerously close to this volcano.
Some commentators found the funny side in this seemingly unhinged holiday activity: the top comment read “I still have eyebrows, is there any chance we can get closer?”, while the second took a far more sarcastic tone:
“It’s a good thing that volcanoes always erupt in a controlled and predictable manner.”/u/anna_avian
Others, however, were quick to respond far more seriously. One geologist claimed that although Fagradalsfjall is considered to be one of the safest and most predictable volcanoes on earth, getting so close was undeniably “stupid”:
“The cone is made of unstable fragments of the lava. It could collapse and release another flow of lava in a different direction… a big dollop of lava landing on your head isn’t great for health.”/u/Elgin_Franklin
In case this comes as a surprise, here’s a quick recap on why getting so close to a volcano isn’t a smart move: the extreme heat generated by molten lava and volcanic gases near the vent can be lethal. The temperature near an active volcano can exceed 1,000 degrees Celsius, which can cause severe burns or even instant death to anyone who gets too close.
Moreover, the gases emitted by volcanoes, such as sulphur dioxide and hydrogen sulphide, can be harmful to human health. Breathing in these toxic fumes can lead to respiratory problems and other serious health issues.
However, a third wave of commenters went on to suggest that the video may actually overestimate how close the tourists are by using a clever camera trick:
“I’m pretty sure the people in that image are much further away than they look, the zoom on that camera has compressed the image so they look closer… they’re probably hundreds of meters away from the lava.”/u/Voyager87
And yet, even this commenter firmly agreed that should this be the case the visitors were “probably still too close”.
Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie whose intoxicated by the prospect of getting so close to something so unpredictable and dangerous or a more cautious traveller who’d rather sit by the pool sipping a Flaming Volcano, we can all agree that this video has struck a chord with viewers around the world and — a rarity in today’s world — has produced something of a consensus.
Getting close is fine but getting as close as this video suggests… is downright dumb.