"As we have seen in the past, people overestimate their ability."
This week's spectacular display of volcanic activity in Iceland has drawn loads of tourists and locals who are eager to see dramatic lava flows and spewing magma, The New York Times reports, but the terrain is pretty dangerous — and local authorities are telling people to stop visiting the volcanic eruption.
"We recommend nobody should go," police officer Jona Jonasdottir told the NYT.
The warnings come after emergency responders had to rescue a hiker with a helicopter on Tuesday, according to the NYT. The traveler had become "exhausted, cold and shocked" while navigating the challenging volcanic landscape — filled with craggy and cracked ground and "unstable lava" — midway towards the eruption site.
"As we have seen in the past, people overestimate their ability," Icelandic government spokeswoman Hjordis Gudmundsdottir told the NYT.
Police have been waving people away from the eruption site, citing dangers toward adventurers and also to emergency responders, who'd rather spend the holiday with family instead of rescuing some dumb tourist stuck behind a superhot lava flow.
Iceland's recent bout of volcanic activity is happening in the Reykjanes region, a small peninsula quite close to civilization. It's a short drive to the Icelandic capital of Reykjavík. The Keflavík International Airport and tourist hot spot Blue Lagoon are located within the peninsula.
The volcanic activity is happening because it lies in an area called the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, where two tectonic plates — the North American and the Eurasian — are slowly spreading the land apart. In the spine of the ridge there's flowing magma and volcanic activity breaking the surface.
Until recently, the area hasn't seen much volcanic activity for centuries, but with this eruption and earlier ones this year, scientists say the region will likely be quite active for years to come.
So expect more displays of nature's power in this locale — but please experience it from a safe distance.
More on volcanoes: NASA Images Show Huge Fissure Opening Up in Iceland
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