2015 GSA Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, USA (1-4 November 2015)

Paper No. 87-3
Presentation Time: 8:35 AM


THEISSEN, Kevin M., Geology, University of St. Thomas, Mail# OWS 153, 2115 Summit Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55105 and HICKSON, Thomas A., Geology, University of St. Thomas, 2115 Summit Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55105, kmtheissen@stthomas.edu

We designed and led a field geology course in Iceland with a focus on developing field skills while also exploring the theme of sustainable resource use in this dynamic tectonic, volcanic, and glacial setting. The course, run during June 2015, was a first-time offering by the Department of Geology at the University of St. Thomas. Nineteen undergraduate students enrolled in the course, with a majority of the students working towards a geology major, along with environmental science, engineering, and non-science majors. Students completed five one to two day-long field projects as we traveled the Ring road counter-clockwise around Iceland over three weeks. Our projects were designed to take advantage of the special geological characteristics at each location. Students did geologic mapping in the rift on Reykjanes; they examined the petrology and geochemistry of volcanics on the island of Heimaey; they explored glacial dynamics at Vatnajökull National Park; the petrology of Tertiary volcanics and coastal sedimentation in the eastern fjords; and they investigated soil stratigraphy and paleolimnology in the Mývatn Lake area. We also had a number of informative presentations, tours, and museum visits to explore Iceland’s leadership in the use of geothermal energy and environmental and ecological concerns including over-fishing and soil erosion. Students were tasked with writing a paper to reflect on these experiences.

Local contacts were key to running our activities at each of these locations. Our contacts aided in course planning prior to the trip, and then gave presentations and provided valuable support in the field while we were in Iceland. In particular, we note the staff of Breiðdalssettur, a science center and museum in the eastfjord town of Breiðdalsvík as a fantastic resource. In order to keep costs down, we took on the logistical challenge of renting and driving vehicles, transporting a significant amount of our own field equipment, and including camping and rental home stays in all locations outside of Reykjavík and Heimaey. Costs were approximately $4000 per student for our group for 20 days. Traveling with students in Iceland is in many ways easy, but we caution that it is not without its challenges (camping in particular) and we provide tips based on our recent experience.

  • Theissen_GSA2015_They Don’t Sell Ice in Iceland.pdf (7.0 MB)