Árni Björn Stefánsson


Árni Björn Stefánsson (born 1949) is an ophthalmologist, sea-kayaker and lava cave explorer. He has written extensively on lava caves in scientific journals and magazines and is active in organizing cave protection. The protected Icelandic natural monument Árnahellir is named after him. In 1974 Árni was the first person to abseil (120 m)into and explore the Þríhnúkagígur pit, an open vertical volcanic conduit (OVVC), the third largest and the deepest formation of its kind in the world (NSS News vol. 50, no 8, page 202-208 Aug. 1992).

Stefánsson has more than 60 years of experience in the field of lava tubes. Since 1982 he has been active in promoting the conservation of the exquisitely delicate lava cave environment. He has been the chairman of the ISS cave conservation committee since it was established in 1993. He is involved in a world wide network of volcanic cavers, part of UIS Commission on Volcanic Caves since 1991, a member the US Speleological Society since 1992 and Cave Conservancy of Hawaii since 2008. Stefánsson is supervisor in the use of Stefánshellir and provides is knowledge, experience and his network and his connections to the landowners of Stefánshellir. It is thanks to him, that Stefánshellir was provided for Space research purposes.