The University of Iceland Institute of Earth Sciences will not send scientists to the eruption site at Holuhraun until January and the Icelandic Met Office’s scientists have not been able to get to the site recently because of impassable roads. The same applies to media personnel.
The police officers who guard the closed-off area in shifts are the only ones currently staying in the cabin in Drekagil. They also monitor meters scientists have put up and take thermal images of the lava. Usually, two officers stay at the site for four days at a time, ruv.is reports.
Duty officer Hermann Karlsson said the police’s role is to patrol the area and be prepared. “Our main task is to … make sure no one is traveling to the site.” The closure has been criticized, especially by travel agents, as there is demand for eruption tours.
However, toxic gases, such as sulfur dioxide (SO2), make the site dangerous, in addition to Icelandic winter weather. “[The gas pollution] is the latest hazard we Icelanders have to learn to tackle. We know this environment and the dangers of a blizzard, the same with a dust storm and other visible hazards but we have to learn to deal with gas and pollution, what we can’t see,” Hermann explained.
It can get lonely at Holuhraun with no company, Hermann admitted. “It will be different. We have of course enjoyed the company of scientists and others who have come … But we will survive.” He added that it’s easier to deal with emergencies with fewer people around.
It has been rather quiet at Holuhraun and Bárðarbunga volcano lately. A magnitude 4.5 earthquake hit the volcano, which lies under Vatnajökull glacier, on Sunday.