According to Suðurnes police, many thousands of people visited the erupting volcano yesterday and into the evening and night. The tourist board has set up an automated counting device at the start of the main hiking trail, which counted 4,666 people on Friday.
The hike is long and hard, and some people require help getting back again. Some visitors suffered minor injuries on the rough ground yesterday, according to police sources.
The recommended trail is marked as Trail A—though even this route is challenging and visitors are reminded to dress for the weather and carry waterproofs, food, and water—as well as a fully-charged mobile phone. As night-time returns to Iceland during the month of August, it will soon become necessary to take head torches to light the way back down for people who visit during the evening.
The area around the volcano itself is dangerous and can change quickly. Volcanic gases can also accumulate at dangerous levels—especially in lower ground during calm weather. New erupting craters could form with little warning. Molten lava can break through older, hardened lava. And the leading edge of the lava field can suddenly start advancing much faster than usual. All these are reasons to keep a safe distance.
In other access news, drivers are reminded not to park on Suðurstrandarvegur road, where clear signs are posted to discourage parking. Police will be issuing parking fines in the area from today.
People considering visiting the eruption tomorrow (Sunday) are asked to reconsider their plans, as there is a yellow weather alert in place for wind and heavy rain on the Reykjanes peninsula and on the South Coast. Visibility is also expected to be poor. The alert is in place from 09.00 to 16.00.
Scientists flew over the site yesterday looking for evidence of new fissures about to open up, but they say there is no indication of any at this time. They still consider it likely that others may open in the near future, though.