LAVA Volcano & Earthquake Center
A museum in the middle of the volcanic hot spot

31. Oktober | 2019

LAVA Center Hvolsvöllur

Who does not remember April 14th, 2010 when a volcano with an unpronounceable name kept the world in suspense. The eruption of Eyjafjallajökull (eyja = island | fjalla = mountain | jökull = glacier) was a relatively harmless icelandic eruption. Only through a chain of unfortunate circumstances it succeeded in bringing air traffic all over Europe to a complete standstill. But there are a number of much more active and dangerous volcanoes such as Hekla or Katla. Located in the middle of this volcanic hot spot at the entrance to Katla Geopark is the LAVA Volcano & Earthquake Center in Hvolsvöllur.

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The LAVA Center is located directly on the ring road about 100 km south of Reykjavik. If you drive from Hella towards the Seljalandsfoss waterfall, you can not miss it at the entrance to Hvolsvöllur. The modern, cubic mansion is completely covered with wood. In front of the building there is ample parking. It's open daily from 9:00 to 19:00. The price level of the entrance fees is high as usual in Iceland. In September 2019, an adult paid 3,590 ISK for the combined ticket (Museum / Film). You can buy the tickets directly at the museum or pre-order the Kombi-Ticket or just the cinema tickett. If you do not have a rental car or do not want to drive yourself, there will also be (a quite expensive) private day trip for small groups . Starting at Reykjavik the Lava center will be part of trip also including Golden Circle and several South Coast sights.

Like the Perlan, this 'museum' is state of the art. Opened in mid-2017, it offers stimuli for all senses and ages. Whether you move shakily through the earthquake simulator or the dark rumble of a volcanic eruption transforms ominously into the sound of crackling ashes, there is always something to see, hear or feel at every turn. Most impressive is the size of the rooms. You get a good idea of ​​how gigantic the extent of volcanism in Iceland is. And with all the interactive, entertaining spectacle, you do not realize that subliminal knowledge is conveyed that even 'hangs on'. Or do you know what a mantle plume is? If not, at least after visiting the Lava Center and the corresponding room, you will not forget it ...

Mantle plume

Iceland is the top or even the 15-million-year-old result of a giant mantle plume. Plumes are ascending streams called magmas, which move in the form of a narrow column from the deep mantle to the earth's surface. The magma canal below Iceland is 160 km (100 miles) wide and 590 km deep and still provides enough material to ensure a spectacular volcanic eruption every 3-4 years.

lava center mantel plume
The mantle plumes distributed over the earth
lava center mantel plume
Several meters high mantle plume representation

What makes Iceland look different is the frequency of volcanic eruptions and quakes in Iceland. If not just the air traffic is paralyzed, you get in the media, but little of it. A little disconcerting is the fact that Eyafallajökull and Katla are only 20 km apart. In the past, she broke out only three months after Eyafallajökull, most recently in 1918. Katla is far larger and more destructive. Your outbreak could be 10 times as strong as the Eyafallajökull. The Icelanders firmly believe that an outbreak is imminent, the question is only when. Should this happen, the explosion of fire and ice would cause a massive tidal wave, a so-called glacier run, which will tear everything away.

If you want to stay up-to-date about the current volcanic activity, you can find information at overview of Icelandic volcanoes, at the weather office or on the Lava Center website. BWith the latter, you can optionally be notified by email about earthquakes. And because few will experience a real volcanic eruption, the museum has dedicated a whole room to the simulation of it.

lava center Eruption eyjafallajökull
On giant video screens an eruption is simulated
lava center Eruption eyjafallajökull
After the eruption the ash rain follows

After visiting the exhibition, you can either take a break in the big café, depending on the time of day or day, in the large souvenir shop keep a lookout for souvenirs or visit the attached cinema (additional ticket needed).

The cinema

The cinema thrilled in advance by an interesting 'seating'. In front of the conventional rows of seats are red and black lounge bags in the first row. Relaxed you can follow the 4K film about the history of the Icelandic volcanic eruptions.


A visit to the LAVA Volcano & Earthquake Center is well worth it. If you are traveling in the south of Iceland anyway, you should plan a visit - maybe as an action in bad weather. In my opinion the trip from Reykjavik is worth only if you spend a whole day and visit other nearby attractions such as Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss.

LAVA Center, Austurvegur 14, 860 Hvolsvöllur, Island 63°45'11.6"N 20°14 '11.0"W