A volcanic eruption is the site of Iceland’s coolest new hangout

By Megan Hullander

Art of people from the 70s sitting in front of an active volcano.

Credit: Megan Hullander

Cooking hot dogs, stripping naked, playing volleyball, snapping selfies, exchanging vows of lifelong commitment, filming music videos, and driving drones. These are just a few activities Icelanders have taken to at the site of a volcanic eruption.

The merciless pandemic forced millions out of their normal routines. No longer able to find solace in the company of baristas and barbacks, we’ve had to get creative in adapting to the “new normal.” Personally, I’ve taken to tea on my stoop instead of a coffee shop and drinking in my bedroom instead of a bar. The people of Iceland, it seems, live far more exciting lives than my own.

On the evening of Friday, March 18th, an hour west of Reykjavik, a volcano began to erupt. The volcanic activity follows a rise in seismic activity. Historical data shows that such an uptick usually results in at least a century of eruptions. “The signs are that it’s reawakening,” says Dave McGarvie, a volcanologist told National Geographic.

Though this is the first action it’s had in about 800 years, it’s spewed slowly, in a surprisingly non-threatening manner. So non-threatening, that the crater now marks the hottest hangout the country’s seen in years.

Hikers flooded to the edges of red rivers of lava and boiling cones, desperate to catch the photo-opp. Couples cuddle at nearby rock formations and athletes move their practices from fields to the scorched earth.

No injuries were reported and experts don’t see the eruption as a threat. “People in Reykjavik are waking up with an earthquake, others go to sleep with an earthquake,” Thorvaldur Thordarson, another volcanologist told the New York Times. “There’s a lot of them, and that worries people, but there’s nothing to worry about, the world is not going to collapse.”

So, join the traffic. Pop open your barbecue, flip through your high school yearbook, take a nap, or FaceTime your mom as mother nature grumbles behind you, weakly spurting fountains of lava.

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