Iceland volcano draws hikers, tourists despite lava flow and opening of second fissure

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Iceland volcano draws hikers despite lava flow

LONDON — Tourists and hikers are thronging to the area near a volcanic eruption in southern Iceland despite the opening of a second fissure and lava flows headed in two directions, officials said Sunday.

Hikers are being drawn to the area by the spectacular view of the lava flow caused by the rare eruption, Civil Protection Department spokesman Vidir Reymissom said.

“There is no danger for any people at the moment, and we have had thousands of tourists and travelers in the area, just to see the volcano,” he said. “It’s safe at the moment.”

He said a second fissure opened Wednesday evening, releasing more lava, which is flowing to the northeast and the northwest.

Concerns that the intense heat would cause the melting of a nearby glacier, causing dangerous floods, had receded unless conditions worsen, he said.

The Eyjafjallajokull (AYA-feeyapla-yurkul) volcano erupted two weeks ago after being dormant for nearly 200 years.

Some 500 people were evacuated but have since been allowed to return to their homes.

Iceland sits on a large volcanic hot spot in the Atlantic’s mid-oceanic ridge. Eruptions, common throughout Iceland’s history, are often triggered by seismic activity when the Earth’s plates move and when magma from deep underground pushes its way to the surface.

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