Mapping and surveilance

Aerial photographs of Surtsey, handled by the Surtsey Association, have been taken regularly since February 1964. In the beginning, the National Land Survey of Iceland handled the photography, but in recent years, Loftmyndir ehf. has handled the aerial photography of Surtsey. Regular aerial photography provides important information on the growth and erosion of the island.

In 2000, the Icelandic Institute of Natural History and the National Land Survey of Iceland published a geological map of Surtsey on a scale of 1:5000. The author of the geological map is Sveinn P. Jakobsson, geologist. A revised edition of the geological map was submitted with the nomination report for Surtsey to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2007, commissioned by the Icelandic Institute of Natural History.

The Icelandic Institute of Natural History has digital data on Surtsey from different years.

The hydrography department of the Icelandic Coast Guard, previously Icelandic Hydrography, has been responsible for the hydrographic surveying and charting of the ocean floor around Surtsey from the beginning. In the summer of 2007, the hydrography department handled the charting of the ocean floor using multi-beam meters.


The Environment Agency of Iceland manages the reserve and has run an operation station in the Westman Islands since May 2008. Magnús Freyr Sigurkarlsson, geologist, is the Environment Agency’s representative and expert on the Surtsey reserve in the Westman Islands.

The Environment Agency consults on the reserve’s matters with a six-member advisory committee, appointed for four years at a time. The Environment Agency’s representative is also the chairman of the committee.

The Surtsey Reserve Advisory Committee’s Representatives 2020.

  • Magnús Freyr Sigurkarlsson, Environment Agency of Iceland
  • Lovísa Ásbjörnsdóttir, Surtsey Association
  • Borgþór Magnússon, Icelandic Institute of Natural History
  • Lilja Gunnarsdóttir, Marine Research Institute
  • Páll Marvin Jónsson and Ólafur Lárusson, Westman Islands Municipality