After a hectic week of logistical challenges, all-day drives across Iceland and a whole lot of lake coring, finally some time to reflect and report on a succesful field trip. In fact, the first for many of us where we managed to accomplish more than originally planned…
Lost in transit
Our trip did not start off on a promising start – upon arrival in Reykavik, we were greeted by howling winds and horizontal rain: typical Iceland weather, but nothing a bunch of seasoned Arctic geologists couldn`t handle. The real challenge was getting our equipment released by customs: some paperwork got lost in transit. Thankfully, things got sorted at the 11th hour so that we could make the most of our time in the field.
Slice of paradise
Wasting no time, we quickly made our way to our fabulous field site, Skeiðvatn: a small lake that looks like a bright blue eye because of the distinct color of the rock flour that is washed in from the up-stream glacier (see our previous blog). We already expected a little slice of paradise, but reality exceed our expectations. Weather conditions had improved dramatically since our arrival: small glaciers with a fresh dusting of snow were reflected in the mirror flat waters, while the surrounding vegetation turned into an autumn blaze of orange-red to scarlet shades. There are worse places to do research.
Skeiðvatn – really really really ridiculously good looking
Needless to say, everybody could not wait to get going the next (bright blue) day. Thankfully, one of the local farmers could be persuaded to transport our field equipment (boats, board engines and a metal coring platform) up to the lake, saving us time (and back problems). A quick boat trip revealed that most of Skeiðvatn is hardly deeper than a regular bath tub. This created additional challenges for extracting the lake`s sediments (our goal), as this involves drilling in a 5m long PVC tube. But nothing a team of scientists can`t solve: we decided to strap a kitchen ladder onto our coring raft to add a bit of height. There are more enjoyable things in life than slamming a 30 kg weight onto a plastic pipe from 2.5 m high, but it got the job done (on day 1). We managed to wrestle no less than 4 m of valuable sediments from depths of Skeiðvatn (without disturbing the monster living there, according to local lore). Which left us time to accomplish more field goals, originally scheduled for another trip (hence the two bird metaphor in the title).
Going up – Science meets home improvement
Next, we drove to our wonderfully comfortable INTERACT field station (Rif), to cut, label, sample and pack our previous sediment cores. We anticipated to use lab space for this dirty (muddy!) work, but the persistently fine weather allowed us to work (and tan) outside. We were spoiled even more as the lovely Kaupfélagið cafe prepared breakfast, lunch and dinner for us during our stay. A fanstastic ending to a succesful field trip.
Packing equipment – a sediment core sandwich