Iceland Mag

11 Reykjavik

Iceland Mag


Travellers in danger on Jökulsárlón: Police urges people not to venture onto unsafe ice

  • A dangerous photo shoo Among the travellers Police had to ask to leave the ice was a couple posing for wedding photos. Photo/Ragnar Unnarsson

Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon is a magical site any day of the year, whatever the season. The lonely icebergs which have broken off from Breiðamerkurjökull glacier drifting in the lagoon, slowly melting as they make their way to sea. But on a cold beautiful winter's day the lagoon puts on a whole different show for visitor, turning into a strangely beautiful, almost alien landscape. Drift ice and icebergs from Breiðamerkurjökull glacier pile up along the shore, filling much of the lagoon.

The ice covered lagoon appears to beckon visitors out to the ice, inviting them to join the icebergs. 

Don't accept this invitation!
The Police in South Iceland warns visitors not to accept this "invitation" as the ice is not safe! 

Read more: Is it our car? Travellers find their vehicle floating among icebergs at Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon

The ice on the lagoon is never frozen solid, no matter how solid it looks. The reason is that the water in the lagoon is in constant movement, as the lagoon experiences tidal effects, causing water to flow in and out of the lagoon with the tides, creating a strong current which carries ice floats out to sea.

This means that even during winter, when the surface of the lagoon freezes, forming what appears to be a solid ice cover, the ice is dangerous, constantly breaking apart, creating constantly shifting holes and rifts. If anyone were to fall in through one of these cracks or holes they are in great danger of being swallowed by the ice which can close quickly, causing people to be trapped under the ice.

A dangerous wedding photo-shoot
In winter ICE-SAR often posts a guard at the lagoon to ensure people don't venture out onto the ice. Signs at the site also warn people not to venture out onto the ice The warning signs did not stop a large group of travellers from venturing out onto the ice yesterday when Police in South Iceland chased dozens of travellers off the ice at Jökulsárlón, including a couple which was taking wedding photos out on the ice. 

A local guide, Ragnar Unnarsson, who arrived at the scene took these photos before the police arrived. As the photos show some of the people had made it quite far out onto the ice. Fortunately nobody fell in and all the travellers returned to shore safely, but Ragnar commented on Facebook that the only way to be absolutely sure the lagoon had not claimed any lives if no cars were left unattended at the lagoon parking lot at night. 

travellers in danger, Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon
A Beautiful day Sure, it looks safe, but it isn't. Photo/Ragnar Unnarsson


travellers in danger, Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon

Travellers in danger The ice is not frozen solid and shifting cracks and openings can swallow people. Photo/Ragnar Unnarsson


travellers in danger, Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon

Police arrived at the scene Officers from the Police in South Iceland herded the peopleoff the ice. Photo/Ragnar Unnarsson


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