The volcanic island of Surtsey, just south of Vestmannaeyjar (the Westman islands), will remain closed to tourists for years to come, according to Borgþór Magnússon, director of the ecology department at the Icelandic Institute of Natural History, Morgunblaðið reports.Photo: Páll Stefánsson/Iceland Review.
Surtsey was formed in a volcanic eruption which began 130 meters (426 ft) below sea level, and reached the surface 50 years ago, on November 14, 1963. The eruption continued until June 5, 1967 and the island declared a nature reserve in 1965.
The tourism industry has been requesting permission to be allowed to run special tours to the unique island but only a limited number of scientists and photographers have been allowed to visit the island in the past to ensure that it remains as free from human interference as possible.
Surtsey received UNESCO World Heritage listing (one of two places in Iceland, Þingvellir being the other) in recognition of its scientific value; the island has been providing long term information on the colonization process of new land by plant and animal life.