Stunning Icelandic Volcano Images
“Deep beneath the silent icecap of Eyjafjallajokull in Iceland a cataclysmic seismic event was unfolding. On the morning of 21st March 2010 molten magma a thousand feet under the glacier was building up pressure and forcing its way through fissures in the earth’s crust beneath the glacial ice cap. The first few days of the trip were very challenging. The conditions at first were extremely cold on the ice cap…then increasingly hot as I approached the molten lava fields. Freezing temperatures sent billowing steam high into the heavens. The glistening ice belied the stirring powerful forces at work beneath me.
I approached the volcano with great caution, the night sky already aflame with unearthly red and yellow light glowing overhead. Before me now was a wonder of the natural world…in the darkness of this sub polar night towering plumes of erupting lava exploded into the sky…showering fiery rocks across the surrounding ash and ice.
Boiling hot molten rock was gushing down the volcanic cone making a grotesque and twisted lava landscape that creaked and groaned as it cooled before my eyes. Smoke and steam billowed forth as the lava ridges crawled by gravity down the new mountainside. Brand new landforms were being created before my eyes….and I would make the first human footsteps on this wild and virgin place.
Like a scene from Dante’s Inferno, I struggled across the cooling ash and rubble with my camera, loose rocks clattered and rolled aside, my boots sank in the steaming lava sands amidst a stench of sulphur.
All around were thin streams of boiling lava. For two days I explored the volcanic basin that was growing and growing. During the day I erected a small tent to shelter from the cold strong winds and by night returned to a tiny wooden cabin on the glacier, a safe haven from the violence of nature in the raw. This was the most incredible and raw backdrop for the Pinnacle photoshoot.
During the early hours next day a strange shuddering awoke me. A small earthquake rattled the hut windows…we were to learn later that it was recorded as 3.9 on the Richter Scale. Down at the volcano something had changed. The landscape had become a silent desert of ash and rock, wisps of gas swirled from cooling vents. The earthquake in the night had silenced the eruption, the volcano had returned to sleep.
With the snow coming down hard and the Rohan photoshoot complete it was time to return to England. At the airport in Reykjavik a security official said to me; “Have you been to the volcano?” “Yes, incredible!” I answered “one of nature’s finest sights.” “Ah haa!” he went on…”Have you heard about the new explosions this morning, a huge new volcano has appeared nearby!” As I flew back to England the new volcano awoke into a giantess, a cloud of volcanic ash causing mayhem in the airspaces of the northern hemisphere.”
Images by John Beatty