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Iceland – Day something – Progress

Those following this may have noticed a brief gap – after our first excursion it was all hands on lab and I have been running microscopy techniques since. With long days in the field, long days in the lab and planning meetings going until 11 every night, fieldwork soon starts to catch up with you.

Not that the last few days have been anything other than productive. Our field team headed out to Heimay, a small island off the south coast of Iceland that experienced a volcanic eruption in 1973. Our other field site, which the field team hit the next day is Landmannalaugar, a much older (but incredibly pretty) site.

The team at the Fimmvörðuháls lava field

The team at the Fimmvörðuháls lava field

After the two excursions, the whole team made the decision to stay at base and consolidate what had been happening so far. It meant we lost a day of sampling, but gave us: a) a well needed lie-in, b) a chance to work through analysing the samples we had collected in the previous days, c) the opportunity for some of the group to make headway evolving the strategy for the rest of the week and d) to really stop and think about our objectives for the expedition.

The ‘work-day’ proved to be a good choice and now we have much clearer goals and sampling strategies. Given that, the field group set off back to Fimmvörðuháls today to take a set of systematic samples that would allow us to begin to answer our science questions, while the lab team went about setting up the analysis protocols that will be used for the rest of the week.

The field lab at Hvolsskoli

The field lab at Hvolsskoli

It was also a special day, one of our group member’s birthday and so there was much rejoicing over a delicious bowl of chilli followed by pudding and cakes.



Iceland 2013 – Day 2 – Field bound

Now the rest of our team have arrived in Iceland, we began to make our way out to our field base in Hvolsvollur, after picking up our trusty steed, Marmaduke.


Travelling via a hardware store, world- [Iceland-] famous bakery and a supermarket to pick up provisions, as well as various tourist sites along the way for the few of us that were new to the island, we made our way to the Hotel Hvolsvollur, our base in the south for the next couple of weeks.

Upon arrival we found out that most our field equipment, which had been shipped separately, had met an unfortunate end at the hands of the authorities, with the hotel having to pay several thousand pounds worth of taxes… Oops.

Hotel Hvolsvollur

Then came the most import part – food. Our field lab (when it arrived) would be set up in the chemistry classroom of the local school, but the kitchen at the school was also where we would be having our dinner. Everyone mucked in (with more than one argument in the kitchen arising), but eventually we had a rota of chefs for the week, and a hearty meal to toast our first night in Hvolsvollur with.



Tomorrow, we head out to two of our field sites at Fimmvörðuháls and Heimey.

Iceland 2013 – Day 1 – The troops have arrived

So, the main bulk of our party has arrived. We’re still waiting on a few more, plus the delivery of our fearsome transport, but tomorrow we make our way to first the supermarket for supplies and then onto Hvolsvollur, where we will set up our field lab.

After collecting the new (mostly American) arrivals this evening we strode out into the Reykjavik evening for some nosh and after Wolfing down some pizzas were treated to a wonderful Icelandic sunset on the way home.

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