Fieldwork, Iceland

Day 4 – Data!

The rain has stopped, the sky is blue (almost), and AUPE finally get’s to stretch her legs as we head off to the first of our field sites at Namafjall, the focus of our Mars-analogue field campaign with the prototype ExoMars Panoramic Camera and NERC FSF reflectance spectrometer.  Namafjall comprises of a ‘moberg ridge’ – a mound of lava that was erupted into an overlying ice cap during the last ice age – surrounded by more recent subaerial basaltic lava flows. Both have been heavily altered by intense geothermal activity, turning the otherwise black and bland basalt into a spectacular array of alteration minerals that look distinctively Mars-like.

Looking down at the altered Holocene subaerial basaltic flows from the Namafjall moberg ridge (credit: Matthew Gunn)

With the ever-looming possibility that this will be our only nice day in the field, we split up. Jennifer Harris and Pete Grindrod get working on acquiring ground-truthing Vis-NIR spectra to corroborate with airborne hyperspectral data, whilst Matt Gunn and I deploy AUPE at a number of colourful outcrops. Here is a quickly-put-together RGB composite of our first test target:

Cropped 3 x 1 colour panorama showing a variety of red – white – yellow alteration mineral phases, with a macbeth colour checker on the right for colour calibration.

Tomorrow we plan to head up to the Moberg ridge itself, with its variety of altered pillow lava basalts, gypsum veins, and hydrovolcanic sediments. Finally, after a successful day data-gathering, we reward ourselves with local salmon gravalax and Icelandic rye bread that’s baked underground using the geothermal heat below.