In the book Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne, professor Otto Lidenbrock departs on a journey to West Iceland, specifically to Snæfellsjökull where he believes the entrance into the earth may be. During his journey, he goes inside the volcano and encounters many adventures, including prehistoric animals and natural hazards. He eventually surfaces in southern Italy, at the Stromboli volcano.
His companions: His cousin Axel and their Icelandic guide Hans.
Last Sunday I embarked on a similar journey. Not to Snæfellsjökull but down to the lava fields just south of Reykjavík. There, in Þríhnjúkagígur, lies the true entrance to the centre of the earth. On my journey, I encountered no prehistoric animals and no natural hazards, but plenty of the amazing colours and rock formations that exist inside a volcano.
My companions: Guðbjörn, What’s On’s Financial manager and his fiancé, Inga.
Þríhnjúkagígur (e. Three-Peaked-Crater) is a 150.000 sq.m bottle shaped cave that is believed to be one of its kind on the planet. The entrance to the crater doesn’t look like much, a 16 sq.m opening that just fits a small 8 person window cleaning elevator. That elevator, however, lowers you 120 m down into the ground until you reach the football-field-sized cave floor.
What sets this cave apart from all others is the way it formed. Formerly a magma chamber containing liquid molten rock, this cave should really be blocked by the cooled rock or have caved in, forming a crater. What we have instead is a unique geological marvel where the effects of the scorching magma are visible on the formidable cave walls.
I could try to explain the feeling you get when you are lowered slowly into this impressive natural phenomenon. But to be honest, I just don’t think I can. Reader, this is something you just have to experience on your own.
After exploring the chamber for about 30 minutes we were safely pulled back up to the surface and enjoyed a delicious Icelandic meat soup provided in the base camp. Perfect for warming up after our adventure inside the volcano.