iceland’s thrihnukagigur volcano is a unique natural phenomena; it is the only volcano in the world with a magma chamber that is accessible and safe to explore.
where a volcano’s crater is usually closed after an eruption by cold, hard lava, the magma in thrihnukagigur’s chamber seems to have disappeared. “it’s like somebody pulled the plug and all the magma ran down,” as one volcanoist put it.
the cavern, equivalent in size to three basketball courts, is imposing, but made beautiful from the various colourations within, and is accessible via a basket fastened to a crane which lowers you 120 meters down the top of the crater to the floor.
though thrihnukagigur has been dormant for four thousand years, it has been dubbed the sleeping volcano. only sixty miles from eyjafjallajökull — the volcano which erupted in 2010 (previously featured) — thrihnukagigur could become active again at any time.
freysteinn sigmundsson, a volcanologist at the university of iceland, was the first to decsend the volcano in 2011. “i felt small compared to the forces of nature,” he said. “i felt privileged to be able to observe the interior of an active volcano. i was deeply touched by [its] beauty and tranquility. “
photos by iurie belegurschi (explore more of the world’s caves and iceland)