Surtsey was formed in a volcanic eruption first detected on the surface of the ocean on November 14th 1963. The eruption most likely started a few days before as a submarine eruption at a depth of approximately 130 meters. Soon after Surtsey was formed, scientists saw the opportunity to observe the development of the island and the colonization of organisms. From the beginning tourist traffic to the island was prohibited and is still in effect today unless permission is obtained from the Environment Agency of Iceland. This was done primarily to avoid the introduction of organisms by man, to protect fragile nature and to promote the island’s development according to the laws of nature without human influence or intervention.
For more information, please see Surtsey (ust.is).