Field Trip to Iceland, August 2010

Group photo at a Hellsheidi geothermal well.
Group photo at a Hellsheidi geothermal well.

The graduate student field trip to Iceland in August 2010 was made possible by the Storke Memorial Fund, designated to support educational activities at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University. The participants on this trip consisted of Ph.D. students in the Earth and Environmental Sciences and Master students from the Climate and Society Program. This group of students represented a full spectrum of sub-disciplines, which allowed us to cover a wide variety of scientific topics including geophysics, tectonics, seismicity, volcanism, petrology, geothermal power generation and carbon sequestration, glaciology, climate and ecology as well as how these have shaped Icelandic culture and history. Additional insights were provided by field trip leaders, Professor Roger Buck and Dr. Timothy Creyt.


A student-led seminar series based on extensive literature reviews was a critical component of the preparation for this field trip. The students met for a total of 16 hours and each of the participants presented a topic of interest to the rest of the group. The seminar laid a good foundation for our field studies and helped to foster the discussion of various features and phenomena we observed in the field. The seminar also provided a basis for general overviews included in this guide. Below is a list of the topics we presented and associated papers (full references can be found in the field guide).

Topics Covered   Papers Chosen
General view of Iceland   None
Hotspot-Ridge Interaction   Dyment et al., 2007, Oceanography
Seismicity   Einarsson, 1991, Tectonophysics
Volcanism   Stefansson et al., 1993, BSSA
Lava lake/Pseudocraters/Tuff Cones   Thordarson and Larsen, 2007, Journal of Geodynamics
Geysers   None
Heat flow/Geothermal Power   Kanuglu, 2002, Geothermics; Subbiah and Natarajan, 1986, ECM
Glacial deposition and erosion   Gudmunsson, 1997, QSR; Cupit, 2008,
Petrology   Sigmarsson and Steinthorsson, 2007, Journal of Geodynamics
Glacial outwash plains and Jokulhlaups   Bjornsson, 2002, GPC
Post-glacial rebound   Menke, 1999, GRL; Sigmundson, 1991, GRL; Sigvaldason et al. 1992, BV
Glacial cycles and Climate Change   Johannesson, 1997, JG; Oerlemans, 1994, Science
Carbon Sequestration   Matter et al., 2009, EP
Icelandic Ecology   Thorhallsdottir, 1998, Oecologia; Arnalds, 1987; AAR
Society, history, and culture of Iceland   None


“The hike up Eyjafjallajökull was one of the best hikes I've ever had or, maybe, will ever have.
The landscape was so foreign and yet so beautiful at the same time.” - Chris

View from Eyjafjallajokull.

Summary of places visited

Day 1 -Arrive in Iceland; Explore Reyjanestá , Blue Lagoon, and dinner in Reykjavík.

Day 2 -Tour of Hellisheiði power plant and CO2 Sequestration Plant; Raufarhólshellir lava tube; Hike through Þingvellir National Park.

Day 3 -Visit Geysir, Gulfoss, and drive to Eyjafjallajökull.

Day 4 -Hike the Fimmvörðuháls, a 1100m mountain pass between Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull; Visit Skókgafoss and drive to Skaftafell National Park.

Day 5 -Glacial hike on Öræfajökull; hike to Svartifoss.

Day 6 -Visit Jökulsarlón glacial lagoon; Explore glacial features of Skaftafell.

Day 7 -Drive through the fjords of Eastern Iceland; See dike intrusions, laccoliths, and mixed basalt and rhyolite volcanic core; Stop of Petra mineral museum; Arrive Mývatn.

Day 8 -Explore Krafla caldera and Leirhujukur geothermal vents; Hiked the Dimmuborgir lava lake and up the Hverfjall tephra cone; Visited Mývatn Nature Baths.

Day 9 -Drive through central Central Iceland; Visit Akureyri, Goðafoss, Kjölur hot springs, and Reykjavík.

Day 10 -Explore Reykjavík, Visit University of Iceland, Flight back to NYC.


“My favorite part of the trip to Iceland was the glaciers...hiking on them and taking photos.
It was like opening up a National Geographic magazine except it was right in front of me.
It was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been!” - Amy


Field Guide

Our Iceland Field Guide summarizes the amazing field experience and the information we learned before, during, and after the trip. In addition to the broad overviews of Icelandic geology, ecology, etc., the guide also contains detailed day itineraries, trip expenses, and dinner menus. We hope that this will be useful in planning future trips to the wonderful and beautiful country of Iceland.