Paper No. 10
Presentation Time: 3:45 PM


MAHER, Barbra1, HOERNER, Lynnette1 and HOWELL, Chris2, (1)Science, Red Rocks Community College, 13300 W. Sixth Ave, Littleton, CO 80228, (2)History, Red Rocks Community College, 13300 W. Sixth Ave, Littleton, CO 80228,

Field experiences can be a key part of helping students understand the role geology plays in developing a sustainable society. Giving community college students access to field experiences is a particular focus for curriculum development, as our science department has developed and led many successful, interdisciplinary field courses. Past trips have included partnerships between geology, biology, astronomy and archaeology to locations such as Hawaii, Costa Rica and New Mexico. A new field course to Iceland is being developed this year to emphasize the critical link between geology, energy resources and society. Iceland is the perfect location to explore this theme, with its wealth of outstanding geology, renewable energy resources and rich cultural heritage. The geothermal and hydropower facilities in Iceland provide 95% of the country’s electricity. The prolific geothermal wells provide hot water across the country. Rapid retreat measured in Oraefajökull’s outlet glaciers over the past few decades has shown the ice cap to be an important indicator of climate change. Catastrophic geologic events such as the glacial outburst flood from the Vatnajökull Glacier in November 1996 and the recent volcanic eruptions of Grimsvötn in 2011 and Eyjafjallajökull in 2010 provide insight into the impact such events have on society. Historic volcanic eruptions such as the Eldgjá and Laki fissure eruptions in 934 and 1783 respectively are excellent examples of how a geologic event can affect a country and global climate. This field course will give community college students a unique opportunity to explore these connections in detail, visiting historic locations, meeting with local geologists and energy industry representatives, and exploring the incredible geologic features. Participation in the GSA GeoVenture program to Iceland in the summer of 2013 was invaluable preparation for the development of this course. Geology, physics and archaeology faculty are participating in the curriculum development. The course is scheduled to run in the summer of 2014.