Iceland fieldwork! (August 2018)
Hello hello! I’m writing this from Boston, where I’ll be this week for Goldschmidt. I’m pumped to present updates on my iron in modern soils characterization project – something I’ve been slowly working on since my time in the lab as an undergrad, and that I’m planning (hoping?) on submitting before the year is up. It’s just tantalizing to always add just one more set of soils… Find me at my poster tomorrow afternoon (Monday! Session 12e!) to hear me ramble about this.
I digress. I just returned from about a week of fieldwork in Iceland (with paleosol postdoc Emily), where we were sampling modern soils and surfaces to use as Precambrian terrestrial analogues. (And to contribute to my aforementioned soil project.) Despite hearing about how Iceland is beautiful, but cloudy and rainy and windy pretty much all of the time, we got extremely lucky weather-wise; in addition to 100-odd samples, I actually came back with a sunburn.
Over the course of eight days, we drove from Reykjavik to Höfn, up to some remote (even for Iceland) regions in the northeast, and back along the coast, ending the trip with a day-drive to the Snæfellnes Peninsula. It was lots of driving, lots of sheep, lots of breathtaking views, and lots of surprisingly decent gas-station espresso (although the jury’s out on whether it was delicious because it tasted good, or because it was so desperately needed. Does it really matter?). We saw glaciers, black sand beaches, endless stacks of basalt flows, moody Icelandic horses, diving puffins, endless stretches of mossy basalts, gorgeous braided rivers, ferrooxidans-rich streams, bright green bogs, and more waterfalls than we could possibly count. It was an incredible experience – THANK YOU, AMERICAN PHILOSOPHICAL SOCIETY, FOR MY LEWIS & CLARK GRANT THAT FUNDED THIS TRIP.
There are so many unique research opportunities there, I can’t wait to go back. This trip spawned several new projects – not that I need any more at the moment – but there are always post-docs… and projects for my own students, eventually… wild to think about that, but it’s exciting!
A few highlights:
On one of our first long driving days, we discovered Glacier Lagoon – right during the golden hour, so the lighting was out-of-this-world.
Sampling a very gravelly young surface somewhere in the northeast...
Sampling one of the organic-rich, stream-fed bog soils. The moss is so green.
Diamond beach! This is a cool black sand beach right across from Glacier Lagoon where ice chunks wash up pretty consistently. Really cool spot.
This being Iceland, and Iceland essentially being one giant volcano, there were lots of red, clayey soils around. Great for what I’m looking for scientifically, but a huge pain to clear out of the auger.
On the third day (I think), our luck with the weather finally ran out. It was rainy and chilly and windy and cloudy. But sampling stops for no weather! Here, I’m sampling soils, basalts, and biologic soil crusts (lichens and mosses) from this basalt and volcanic sand field. These landscapes were my favorite: these fields of basalt chunks stretches for kilometers in all directions, and they’re covered in this thick moss. Although the moss is so extensive, it can cover these flows in as little as one year! Which is crazy fast!
Along with the moss fields (foreground) came huge mounds of bright red, purple, and black scoria. Silent except for the wind. Together, they created a wholly otherworldly feel. I could so easily picture early Earth like this, it was eerie.
All in all, I’d call this trip a smashing success. Iceland – it was great. I’ll catch you later.