A most impressive volcano

March 9th, 2010

ZZYZX, CALIFORNIA–Our second and last stop of the day was Amboy Crater, which is about halfway between Barstow and Needles, California, near Route 66. Meagen Pollock, our ace petrologist, prepared us well for this visit, so we’ll wait for her to post the geological details and her expert observations. I want to prepare the ground with some photos of our hike up this remarkably recent cinder cone.

Wooster geologists walking across the lava field to Amboy Crater.

A very happy Meagen Pollock with a volcanic bomb tossed from Amboy Crater.

Wooster geologists on the rim of Amboy Crater trying very hard not to be blown down either the steep slope into the crater or the steeper slope down the outside.

Iceland Permeates Our Everything

July 12th, 2009

Done! Today was our last day in the field. Rob finished hunting for zeolites on Vatnsdalsfjall.

Rob finishes his field work today.

Rob finished his field work today.

To get to the last field area, we had to cross “the deadly fields of sadness,” hummocky and swampy fields that are treacherous to walk across. One of us (guess who?) wished for a “luck dragon to fly us to the top of the mountain.” Then we had to cross a river. Adam kindly offered piggy-back rides to everyone. Rob took him up on it. Meanwhile, Todd and Meagen took a different approach.

Adam gives Rob a lift across the river.

Adam gives Rob a lift across the river.

Success!

Sweet success!

Todd tests his waterproof boots.

Todd tests how waterproof his boots are.

Yesterday, Adam finished his field work, but the day started with a small adventure. On our way to Adam’s last field site, the car somehow found a ditch! Fortunately, a nice elderly Icelandic farmer knows charades, and Meagen was able to ask him for help. He came to the rescue with his dog and his tractor! After that, we hit the rhyolite jackpot and Adam completed all of his I.S. sampling.

The Woo Crew with our trusty rental car.

The Woo Crew with our trusty rental car.

Like the Estonia Crew, we’re almost ready to head home, but not before we see Krafla and meet with the Hales Fund Iceland Group.

The Woo Crew completes a successful field season.

The Woo Crew completes a successful field season and walks off into the sunset (if only the sun would set!).

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.

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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