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Travelers warned not to visit ice cave in SE Iceland: Potentially poisonous gases detected

By Staff

  • Breiðamerkurjökull glacier An experienced local guide died in an ice cave accident earlier this year. Photo/Vilhelm

Travelers are urged not to visit an ice cave called "The Crystal" in Breiðamerkurjökull glacier in South East Iceland. The Icelandic Meteorological Office is investigating reports of potentially poisonous gases and low level of oxygen in the cave. Earlier this year an experienced local guide died during a visit to an ice cave in Hofsjökull glacier. 

Breiðamerkurjökull glacier is one of the outlet glaciers of Vatnajökull glacier. Breiðamerkurjökull empties into Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon.

Do NOT enter the cave
The warning was issued yesterday after local guides had detected low levels of oxygen in the cave and a strange smell. According to the local news site Vísir the cave has been closed for some time, due to weather. Guides who were inspecting conditions in the cave detected the smell and low level of oxygen. The guides left the cave immediately and notified the Police in South Iceland as well as the IMO. 

The IMO and the Police in South Iceland will send a team to conduct more studies in the cave to determine the source and nature of the gas. People are urged NOT to enter the cave until it has been determined safe.

Read more: Man who died in Hofsjökull ice cave accident was an experienced local guide

The IMO has previously issued a warning to travelers to show extreme caution while visiting ice caves created by geothermal activity. Poisonous gases, including Carbon Monoxide CO and Hydrogen Sulfide H2S, which are released in significant quantities by geothermal vents, can concentrate in the caves, creating dangerous conditions. 

Read more: Why are geothermal ice caves more dangerous than caves created by meltwater?

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