mpollock May 31st, 2013
ICELAND – You may remember that Team Iceland is trying to determine the origin of interesting columnar-jointed features exposed in the interior of a subglacial pillow ridge. We have several hypotheses, one of which is that they could be related to the internal magma plumbing system. There’s no better way to know what’s inside of a volcano than by actually going there. Fortunately, we’re able to explore the interior of nearby Thrihnukagigur Volcano through the Inside the Volcano Tour. If you have the chance, you should check out their amazing image and video galleries.
Thrihnukagigur has three volcanic peaks, one of which is a cinder cone with a crater that opens up into a 400 ft deep volcanic chamber. Our goal was to explore the chamber for units and structures that might be analogous to the features we observed in the quarries. The tour began with a 2 mile hike to the volcano over lava flows that were 4,000 and 10,000 years old.
View of Thrihnukagigur Cone from the surrounding lava fields. The Inside the Volcano tour has a warm hut at the base of the cone. (The white structure is difficult to see against the field of snow). Photo Credit: Ellie Was
At the hut, we were fitted with safety equipment for our descent into the volcano. Photo Credit: Liz Plascencia
We crossed this bridge to get into the open-air basket that took us into the volcanic chamber. Photo Credit: Ellie Was
The view down the open volcanic neck from the basket. Photo Credit: Ellie Was
View from below of the lift descending into the chamber.
Michael Williams (’16, Wooster), Adam Silverstein (’16, Wooster), and Liz Plascencia (’16, Dickinson) in the volcano. Photo Credit: Liz Plascencia
We saw some features that are analogous to our quarry observations. Here, on the left, we see a contact between the dark underlying Moberg Formation and the colorful overlying lavas that make up much of the volcanic center. The black vertical rocks near the center of the photo are dikes that cut across the lava flows. The dikes have heated and altered the surrounding rocks, turning them red.
This appears to be an irregularly shaped intrusion with an open cavity that might have transported magma to different parts of the volcano during the eruption. Notice the person in the center bottom for scale.
Did I mention that we battled driving sleet and 45 mph winds to hike to and from the volcano? Here’s part of our group linking arms to stay on their feet as they hike back from the volcano. Our guides were superb and made sure everyone was safe during each part of our trip. Photo Credit: Liz Plascencia
Ellie Was (’14, Dickinson), Alex Hiatt (’14, Wooster), and Aleks Perpalaj (’14, Dickinson) after their return hike. Photo Credit: Liz Plascencia
Team Iceland warms up with hot coffee and homemade Icelandic stew. Photo Credit: Liz Plascencia
The t-shirt that says it all. Photo Credit: Liz Plascencia
It was an incredible Icelandic experience! Much thanks to the Inside the Volcano Team for their excellent knowledge, guidance, and hospitality!