Field Trip to Iceland

Field Trip to Iceland
ERTH 4504/5202 Advanced Igneous Petrology
August 2014

Photo album Video


Led by Professor Brian Cousens, this trip was attended by ten graduate students (five from the University of Ottawa) and eleven undergraduate students from Carleton. The group was given an introductory lecture on the geology of Iceland by Hjalti Franzson, the Chief Geologist of the Iceland Geosurvey. We spent the rest of the day investigating the geology and geothermal character of the Reykjanes Peninsula where the Mid-Atlantic Ridge comes ashore. After a free day in Reykjavik, we piled into five Jeeps and headed to southern Iceland. Stops included the Skogafoss waterfall, the Solheimajokull outlet glacier, the Dyrholaey arch, the Hjorleifshofdi volcanic structure, and rootless cones produced during the 935 AD Eldgja fissure eruptions.

The highlight of the trip was our accommodations at the Thakgil campground, located within the Katla Geopark north of Vik. From there we drove to Stykkisholmur in northwest Iceland, where we went on a boat tour of the Breidafjordur Islands and saw the most bizarre columnar joints ever! This was followed by a day-long tour of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula led by volcanologist Haraldur Sigurdsson. 

Our next stop was the Lake Myvatn/Krafla area of northeast Iceland, a geologist's playground.  Features include collapsed lava lakes, rootless cones, pahoehoe and aa flows, pyroclastic fall and surge deposits, geothermal energy plants, rhyolite domes, explosion craters and cone-fissure eruptions. From there, it was back to Reykjavik just in time for Culture Night, a celebration of the arts and culture in the area. The group went on the Golden Circle tour (Gulfoss waterfalls, Geysir geothermal field, Thingvellir fissures and the Alping parliament site), a tour of the Hekla area, and finally a hike over the Hengill geothermal field.


Beautiful Iceland


The cost of this trip was partially supported by the Ottawa-Carleton Universities Society of Economic Geologists (OCUSEG) Student Chapter and the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC). We would like to thank Hjalti Franzson, Vigdis Hardardottir, Gestur Gislason, Iceland Ocean Tours, Haraldur Sigurdsson, Iceland Horizon Tours, Superjeep Tours and Iceland Excursions for their contributions to the trip, and finally the weather gods for the abundant sunshine we experienced!