Archive for the ‘Geology’ Category

Sights, Sounds … and Smells

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

amanda.jpgAmanda Mok
I once heard that a culture can be described by its cuisine and language. I’ve discovered something else to add to that list: smell. The first thing that hit me as I walked out of the airport on Day 1 was the sulfurous smell. Reykjavik’s air has “rotten egg” fumes coming from the hot springs, which play a huge role in modern Icelandic culture. A majority of the country’s energy comes from these holes in the Earth. Their smell is in the air, in the water, even in the food.

A visit to Iceland, especially one focused on fisheries, would not be complete without visiting the Westman Islands, which are very important to the large fishing industry. In addition to the unique landscape of the islands (shaped by active volcanoes), there’s no mistaking the characteristic smell of fish. From the harbor to the fish factory, the heavy scent of raw fish follows you everywhere. There’s no escape.

So, next time you travel, smell the air!


Geology Tour

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

eva.jpgEva Cheung
This afternoon we were set free to do as we pleased, so while other Terrascopers slept or went shopping or did various other exciting activities (check out their blog posts), a group of us went on a excursion into the outskirts of Reykjavik. Led by our guides from Reykjavik University and Professor Sam Bowring (Course 12), we took a road trip to explore the geology of Iceland.

Located right along the mid-Atlantic ridge, Iceland is home to some really beautiful geological formations. We got to see stretches of land created by lava flows from volcanic eruptions hundreds of thousands of years ago. At another outcrop, our guide explained that the flow had covered a body of water, which then built up pressure under the rock as it was heated, until the rock burst. We also climbed a slope of pillow basalt, fragmented rocks that were the result of lava that had flowed under now-melted glaciers. It was simply amazing how a natural process that happened so long ago could be frozen in time—and rediscovered after so many years by scientists who can look at the shape and structure and composition of the rocks to piece together exactly what happened.

Even though I didn’t know very much about rocks or geology (definitely not nearly as much as the EAPS students did), I had a great time, and I definitely learned a lot. To add to the experience, the sky was clear for the first time this week, and we got to take some really nice photos.


I Was Blown Away

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

tracey.jpgTracey Hayse
Hometown: Lexington, Ky.
We spent the day in Heimaey of Vestmannaeyjar (the Westman Islands). Upon arrival we were whisked away to a fish processing factory where we all got to dress in plastic scrubs and see fish heads chopped off. Mmm… when’s lunch? We then continued the tour by going into the bowels of a fishing boat, where I got to be the nerdy radio kid chasing down conversations with my microphone and hopping gaps in narrow walkways with my kit swinging wildly at my hip.


Our next stop would give us a chance to climb a volcano that only 35 years ago almost destroyed Heimaey. (Check out “Stopping the Lava,” by John McPhee.) We all rush out of the bus and start hightailing it up the lava rock, when here comes the first high-speed gust of wind. This wind would put the MacGregor wind tunnel to shame. It knocked us into one another and onto the ground. To avoid being blown away we would lie down, then as soon as the wind would die down, we would all take off running as far as we could before the next gust. By the time we made it up and back down, I had bits of lava rock in my nose and ears and throat.

The beauty and the wind of Heimaey blew me away. Literally.


Tuesday, March 25th, 2008

emilymoberg.jpgEmily Moberg
Hometown: Media, Penn.
So my personal mission for the Iceland trip has been to learn about the folk tales and mythology of Iceland; the Terrascope radio group is planning to include a section on the culture of Iceland and my personal fixation is on folk tales. As such, I’ve been asking around…and found something very interesting.

Iceland, in short, has elves. Apparently, they live all around and can be kind (if you appease them) or very wicked (if you mow their hills, for example). According to our tour guide, most Icelanders believe in the elves, and if they don’t, they’re at least respectful of them.

Seeing what Iceland looks like, you can understand why. We passed fields of rocky outcrops and mist-covered mountains—all full of wonderful hidey holes. At the divide between the continental plates (which we got to walk around in) there were crannies everywhere. While singing Lord of the Rings theme songs at the top of our lungs, several of us picked out our own elven caves, replete with icicle chandeliers. Hopefully, sometime later in the trip we’ll actually get to see a real elf. I’ll be looking!