The Wild Rhyolite Chase

July 7th, 2009

The Woo-Crew has been working feverishly on their Iceland I.S. projects. Rob and Todd have been climbing the northern end of Vatnsdalsfjall for days, searching for zeolites. The last day was spooky as the thick fog cover came in and out with the wind direction, making it impossible to see at one moment and clear blue skies the next. Rob and Todd accomplished so much that they have been able to help Yexary, a Syracuse geology major, in her field area.

Yexary, Todd, and Rob mapping gabbro by the shore in Skagastrond.

Yexary, Todd, and Rob pausing to pose while mapping gabbro by the shore in Skagastrond.

Not only does the Iceland crew excel in Mineralogy and Petrology, but also in Invertebrate Paleontology (much like the Estonia group). We’ll see your unaltered hard parts and raise you an zeolite-filled olivine basalt!

Todd and Rob in the fossil-crouching position on the Skagi shore.

Todd and Rob in the fossil-crouching position on the Skagi shore.

The same day that they hunted fossils, Rob and Todd saved a baby duck that was struggling in a net on the shore. They are genuine heroes.

Adam, meanwhile, is on the hunt for the elusive rhyolite. After some early success, he has run into basalt where rhyolite has been mapped. Unfortunately, all of the rhyolite is mapped at the top of the mountains, so Adam has made several trips to the top just for the fun of it.

Adam at the top of Vatnsdalsfjall.

Adam at the top of Svinadalsfjall.

At the top of Svinadalsfjall, Adam, Rob, and Todd found a word spelled out in rocks: L-i-e-t-u-v-a. We don’t know what it means, but we decided to spell U-S-A in rocks right next to it.

Rob and Todd claim a mountain for the USA.

Rob and Todd claim a mountain for the USA.

Todd strikes a pose on the way up Vatnsdalsfjall.

Todd strikes a pose on the way up Vatnsdalsfjall.

Wooster Geologists Invade Skagi Peninsula

July 4th, 2009

We’re on the Skagi Peninsula now and internet access is a little more random. We started field work on Rob’s and Adam’s projects this week. Rob found some awesome zeolites – too many to name – and a lot of altered basalt (my poor babies!). Adam ran into some trouble early on because many of the rhyolites appear highly altered, but has managed to find some pretty decent samples that he can use for geochemical analyses.

Rob poses while searching for zeolites in sunny Iceland (not really sunny).

Rob poses while searching for zeolites in sunny Iceland (ha ha Estonia Group).

Adam conquers Vatnsdalsfjall on his way to the top to sample rhyolites.

Adam conquers Vatnsdalsfjall on his way to the top to sample rhyolites.

We’re living in a house with 12 people – sounds like a reality show (The Geology World or Big Brother: Geo-Style). Meagen is in a room with 4 girls – it looks like their clothes exploded. Todd, Rob, and Adam are sharing a room – it smells…refreshing(?). They have swum in the arctic ocean EVERY DAY since we arrived. They are CRAZY!

We’re going to be here until July 14. Sadly, we’ll be missing the Hunavaka, a local celebration with colorful balloons and music. Still, every day is a celebration when you’re doing geology!

The Great Basalt Race

July 2nd, 2009

Todd Finished his I.S. Research!!!! – Rob

Todd measuring the diameter of a pillow.

Todd measuring the diameter of a pillow.

The Iceland crew taking meticulous notes.

The Iceland crew taking meticulous notes.

Yes I did and it feels nice to say that I have my field work complete. Thanks to Meagen, Rob and Adam for all of their help! We had a good time in the quarries collecting samples and we even had some competetive racing.

Now its time to go to Blonduos to work on Rob’s and Adam’s projects. -Todd

Pillows, Pillows, Everywhere

June 30th, 2009

Today, we spent nearly all day mapping and sampling one pillow quarry. We found that the pillows are highly varied in size, shape, and orientation. Todd is interested in understanding the relationship between pillow morphology and the physical properties of the magma. He hypothesizes that magma viscosity plays a large role in controlling pillow size. To test his hypothesis, he and his trusty field assistants (Adam and Rob) measured the dimensions and orientations of several pillows. They also sampled the interior and glassy rinds so that Todd can analyze the geochemistry when we return to the States. Tomorrow = another day = another quarry.

Adam, Rob, and Todd working in the pillow quarry.

Adam, Rob, and Todd working in the pillow quarry.

Once upon a time, there were three pillow quarries

June 29th, 2009

Ben Edwards arrived from the States today. After a short morning of getting acclimated, he and the Wooster crew headed out to the field with our Icelandic colleagues, Steina and Hauker. We visited 3 quarries that expose the internal architecture of 2 different pillow ridges. Pillow ridges form during subglacial eruptions, where the the ice melts and the lava is quenched. Thanks to the heavy machinery, we are able to see natural cross sections of the ridges, and we’re observing a lot of unexpected details. Most quarries show nicely preserved pillows, with radial cross sections and glassy rinds. Vesicles appear in a variety of patterns, sometimes concentrated in the center of the pillow or in concentric zones around the center. Surprisingly, there are a lot of intrusions as well. We observed one of the best examples of a feeder dike in contact with its lava flow. There were also some irregular and sheet-like intrusions that stood out against the wall of pillows. Clearly, there are a lot of questions to be answered here. Todd is going to address some of those questions in his I.S.

Adam using a hand lens to identify phenocrysts.

Adam using a hand lens to identify phenocrysts.

Pillow lavas with a hammer for scale. Notice the radial joints. The pillows are surrounded by brown, altered glass.

Pillow lavas with a hammer for scale. Notice the radial joints. The pillows are surrounded by brown, altered glass.

A light gray dike intrudes through black, glassy, brecciated material and feeds an upper unit of gray pillows.

Todd (on the right) is pointing to a light gray dike that intrudes through black, glassy, brecciated material and feeds an upper unit of gray pillows.

Iceland: The Beginning

June 28th, 2009

We made it to Iceland! We landed Friday morning and have been busy having fun (and seeing great geology). Our chefs have been cooking excellent meals.

Adam, Rob, and Todd eating their awesome salmon dinner on the first night.

Adam, Rob, and Todd eating their awesome salmon dinner on the first night.

All of the food has been fantastic, especially the cheese. Todd likes it so much, he bought a whole block of it for himself! Rob and Todd have eaten fish for every meal and plan to continue for the entire trip.

As soon as we landed, we traveled along the southern coast to meet a group of geologists on a field trip. We’ve seen glorious columnar joints, complicated intermingled granophyre and basalt, and highly altered hyaloclastite. We also ventured all over a glacier, where we drank some melt water and stood in a glacial cave.

Todd, Rob, and Adam standing in a glacial cave.

Todd, Rob, and Adam standing in a glacial cave.

At one stop, we walked along a black sand beach. Well, most of us did.

Adam taking a snooze.

Adam taking a snooze.

Todd and Rob made rock sculptures and signed the sand.

Todd and Rob on the black sand beach.

Todd and Rob on the black sand beach.

Just down the road, we visited the Dyrholaey bird sanctuary. The basaltic lavas and hyaloclastites have been carved into interesting shapes by the crashing waves.

Todd, Rob, and Adam on a VERY stable rock bridge.

Todd, Rob, and Adam on a VERY stable rock bridge.

Hyaloclastites are glassy fractured rocks formed when lava erupts explosively in water. One of us attempted to find the source of the lava…in the COLD Atlantic ocean.

Rob (in the red trunks) searches for the lava source while his comrades (lower right corner) observed his methods.

Rob (in the red trunks) searches for the lava source while his comrades (lower right corner) observed his methods and took notes. They concluded that they should not follow.

In Hveragerdi, we observed the effects of the hotspot in action. We hiked along a trail that had fumaroles, hot springs, and mud pots. The local stream is heated by drainage from the hot springs and serves as a natural hot tub.

Todd and Rob soaking in an Icelandic stream.

Todd and Rob soaking in an Icelandic stream.

We’re in Hafnarfjordur tonight, staying with Steina, one of our Icelandic colleagues. Tomorrow starts our field work – we’re headed to Todd’s site: Undirhlithar.

Why go to Iceland when you can stay in Boston?

June 24th, 2009

10 hours into our Iceland trip, we’ve made it all the way to…Boston! We know it’s hard to believe, but the weather wasn’t on our side and we had “airport trouble.” So, we’re spending the night at an awesome Holiday Inn Express and we’ll try the same flight again tomorrow. Wish us luck!

Adam, Rob, and Todd "chillaxin'" at Logan

Adam, Rob, and Todd "chillaxin'" at Logan

Fieldwork Audio Post

May 20th, 2009

Speaking of fieldwork, check out my audio podcast on a typical day of fieldwork in Iceland. I learned how to make this (and do a lot of other neat stuff) in the Instructional Technology Fellows Workshop.

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