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May 2, 2012

Iceland tourists can venture inside dormant volcano

     London: Tourists to Iceland, who have a penchant for adventure, will be able to sign up for a tour that takes them inside the crater of a colossal volcano, from next month. The Eyjafjallajokull volcano had erupted with great force in March 2010, spewing out a vast cloud of ash and debris that caused myriad complications for the airline industry in Europe. But 3H Travel, the Icelandic travel company behind the tours into the maw of the Thrihnukagigur volcano, insists that its out-on-a-limb expedition is entirely safe. Thrihnukagigur has been dormant for over 4000 years and is hugely unusual in that its interior is accessible to those with a penchant for dropping into dark corners. In fact, the rock giant can boast three separate magma chambers (its name translates loosely into English as ‘Three Peaks Crater’). In a rare geological occurrence, during its last eruption, the magma in one of the chambers solidified on the walls inside, rather than cooling into hard lava on the surface and blocking the ‘entrance’. “Thrihnukagigur is unique,” the Daily Mail quoted Haraldur Sigurdsson, a local volcanologist, as saying. “It is like somebody came and pulled the plug, and all the magma ran down out of it,” Sigurdsson said. Tours are available during the warmer months of the Icelandic summer, with four departures on offer every day between June 15 and July 31. Brave tourists can descend 120 metres into this ancient chasm, using a cable lift, passing into the volcano through the four-metre-by-four-metre opening in its summit. The full magma chamber is equivalent in height to three versions of the Statue of Liberty stacked one on top of the other, with tunnels descending to a depth of 200 metres. Visitors can also expect to witness a spectacular array of colours. The inside of the chamber could be compared to a cavernous cathedral dome, daubed in many hues. Those who opt to take the tour need to be relatively fit, as it involves a two-mile, 40-minute trek to the lip of the crater (and a return hike on re-emergence from the chamber).
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