Tuesday, 19 June 2012

First few days in Iceland

After flying over nothing but sea for the past couple of hours the first glimpse of Iceland had me thinking we'd taken a wrong turn over Ireland and ended up on the far side of the moon; brown pitted lava fields surround the approach to the airport at Keflavick. I was met by John at the bus terminal at Reykjavik and after a quick clean of the van we got our priorities sorted and headed to Iceland's premier climbing wall which has a plethora of very hard, crimpy routes with an equally impressive number of young, strong climbers. A visit to the Laugardal swimming pool swimming pools, was just the right antitdote to a days travelling and a bit of climbing. I learn't that 44C is very hot and that I still get a thrill going down water slides.


 The weather has been mild and sunny (11C) in the short time i've been here. I'm writing this first part at 23.30 and its still very bright outside so the whole day/night thing could take a while to get used to. 

12.00AM getting ready for bed in the van outside of Reykjavík University.  Photo: Alasdair Monteith, 2012

The plan

We'll be setting off tomorrow (Wednesday) to start digging pits to collect tephra (that's the rock and ash erupted out of volcanoes) samples in the North of the island, and working our way around the whole of the island over the next couple of weeks.

The blue blobs give a (very) rough idea of where we´ll be heading over the next week or so
The ash that John is particularly interested in mapping and measuring comes from the Hekla 3 and 4 eruptions so called because when you start digging into the ground you come across the deposits from eruption 3 first and eruption 4 second. The Hekla 3 deposits are the result of an eruption that occurred 3,100 years ago and the Hekla 4 eruption from around 4,200 years ago, the later is estimated to have spewed out 5,600,000,000 cubic metres of tephra from an eruption similar in scale to Mount St. Helen's in 1982. As with the recent Icelandic eruptions you can find ash from the Hekla 4 eruption around Scotland.  By working out the amount of ash in a given volume and sticking the data in a few computer models, it should help piece together where the ash would go if such an eruption were to occur again. John has a more in-depth explanation of all of this on his blog, Volcan01010.

Apparently most of the island has pretty good 3G connection, blog posting may turn out to be an effective test of this!

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