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Earth Systems field trip to Iceland 2018
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Thirty-seven students following the Institute of Earth Systems’ B.Sc. (Hons) in Earth Systems participated in a week-long training session in Iceland, offered in connection with the second-year study-unit titled Environmental Monitoring: Survey Techniques for Life & Earth Sciences. The trip, held between 29 April and 6 May 2018, allowed for five full days in the field, and the group stayed in the town of Selfoss in southern Iceland, with daily excursions for fieldwork and site visits.

Student group at at Sólheimajökull glacier 

 Staff members and students on a glacier trek at at Sólheimajökull

The students were accompanied by members of the Institute’s academic staff, and followed an intensive programme of fieldwork during their stay. Field exercises addressed several different subject areas within life and earth sciences, including plant succession, lichenometry, intertidal zones, river channel and flow characteristics, tephrachronology, geomorphological mapping, and geocaching.

Fieldwork in challenging weather conditions 

In addition to learning about field techniques and the challenges of fieldwork in adverse weather conditions that included bitingly cold temperatures as well as snow and sleet, students had the opportunity to study a variety of tectonic and geomorphological processes and landforms. During a visit to Þingvellir National Park, students observed first-hand the divide between the Eurasian and the North American continental plates at the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

 Studying the effect of temperature on biota

Students also visited a variety of volcanic areas, including the site of the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption and Iceland’s most active volcano Hekla. On their final afternoon in Iceland, students went on a glacier trek at Sólheimajökull, with a specialised guide explaining the many features particular to these environments, and the threats that they face. In Drumbabót, students visited a forest remnant dating back to the 9th century, which was destroyed by flooding caused by sub-glacial eruptions and subsequently buried by sediment, but which was re-exposed in recent years.  Other sites visited during the week included Geysir, which now lends its name to all geysers worldwide, and the geomorphologically complex waterfall of Gulfoss.


Horse-riding on the distinctive breed of Icelandic horse was an optional extra activity enjoyed by a large group of students. Icelandic horses are known for their sure-footedness and ability to cross rough terrain, and display two gaits in addition to the typical walk, trot, and canter/gallop commonly displayed by other breeds. 

Photographs chronicling each of the five days spent in the field can be viewed at the Institute’s Facebook page as follows: days 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.

Similar activities, aimed at providing students with experience in conducting field surveys in unfamiliar environments of particular geophysical and ecological interest, are a regular part of the Institute’s programmes in Earth Systems.

Student representation on Institute Board

Election date 14 November 2019

Academic Calendar 2019/2020

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Academic Excellence Award 2019

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B.Sc. (Hons) in Earth Systems - an overview

Video presentation of the course

Last Updated: 4 June 2018

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