Monday, 2 July 2012

Moving East

Since leaving the Highlands and returning to Akureyri on Friday we've been travelling eastwards with the intention of sampling in the Eastern Fjords. The weather has remained settled and mild, quite the opposite to what seems to have hit the UK over the last few days. We've now been on the road since the 20th June and covered a fair distance along the North coast and down into the interior before heading East. The van and all her crew are doing very well!
Ash sampling through Iceland, the journey so far.... Red line marks our route, blue marks the van camp stops
After being amongst fairly young lavas and volcanoes whilst in the Highlands and north coast we've now entered an older area of Iceland with geology that is more similar to  the Alps or Scotland. 

The effects of frost action on a basalt rock.  Photo: Alasdair Monteith, 2012

Ridge above Bakkagerdi.  Photo: Alasdair Monteith, 2012
The route to Bakkagerdi, a small hamlet accessible by only one coastal road, was quite an experience. Faced with what would appear to be an insurmountable scree slope the Icelanders had simply ploughed a gravel track straight through the middle and are prepared to clear up whenever an avalanche or landslip takes it out. Tarmac is for whimps!

The Borgarfjördur scree/track towards Bakkagerdi.  Photo: Alasdair Monteith, 2012

The ash layers, they are a'changing

The ash layers we've been finding in the sampling pits have also changed the further east we have come. Where as previously the Hekla 3 and 4 layers stood out quite prominently (not least because they are predominately rhyolite and so white), quite a few black and white layers have appeared which we think represent eruptions from  Hekla 1158 near the middle of the pits and Askja 1875 near the top of the pits. The 1875 layer included some quite impressive pumice lapilli when we sampled in the Mödrudalur area. As we are now east of many of Iceland's volcanoes this change in pit profile was to be expected, it certainly means that every sample pit is different and surprising!

Continuing down the fjords and east coast tomorrow before winding our way back to Reykjavik on

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