THE GEOLOGY OF ICELAND: A BREVARD COLLEGE INTERNATIONAL FIELD TRIP, JULY 2010
The group spent two nights in Reykjavík, visiting the sites on the Golden Triangle--Þingvellir, Strokkur, and Gullfoss--and a geothermal power plant. A night was spent on Snæfellsnes, in western Iceland and two nights in the northwest fjord country, including a trip to Látrabjarg, Iceland’s westernmost point.
Four nights were spent at Mývatn. One day trip examined volcanic features around the lake and in the rift zone: Skútústaðir’s rootless craters, Dimmuborgir, Hverfell tuff cone, and Grótgjá. Another day trip examined the features of the Jökulsá á Fjöllum--Hrossaborg, Dettifoss, and Ásbyrgi--following it to the north coast. The third day trip hiked through Krafla Caldera and Námafjall Hverir. A day-long journey across the Sprengisandur introduced the desolation of the Central Iceland Desert and the Vatnajökull the day before hiking in through the obsidian flow and the variegated rhyolitic Torfajökull Caldera at Landmannalaugar. Rift volcanism was examined at Eldgjá and Lakagígar and glaciers were visited at Jökulsárlón and Skaftafellsjökull. Numerous volcanic, glacial, and coastal geomorphic features were visited along the south coast.
Ash samples from the April 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption were collected at the northern base of the volcano before taking the ferry to Heimaey to climb the 1973 Eldfell volcano that grew in the town. Driving around the island provided views of Surtsey and several prehistoric volcanic centers that developed in line with the Lakagígar rift and Katla. After returning to Reykjavík, many spent a day examining the features of the Reykjanes, where the midocean ridge comes ashore. In a parting encore, everyone visited the Blue Lagoon for a last soak in geothermal water.
Everyone agreed that Iceland is a place every geologist needs to visit. The geology is uncluttered by vegetation and actively sculpted by volcanism, rifting, ice, water, and wind. The July weather was excellent, particularly in south Iceland.