Iceland Fieldwork 2015 (aka 50 Shades of Grey)

Another summer, another trip to Iceland! However, instead of sampling the usual volcanic and hydrothermal deposits and environments, this visit was focused on one thing only: sediments. Sedimentary deposits have become a key focus of ongoing Mars exploration. This is because of their association with long-lived liquid water habitats (such as fluvial-lacustrine deposits), and preservation…

Mars analogue adventures in Iceland 2014

Landing into Keflavik airport has become a familiar sight, as the vast flat expanse of moss-covered lava flows stretches out into a horizon of cold grey clouds as we approach the runway. This is my ninth trip to Iceland, and for this trip we are sampling from various sites in the northeast – some old, some…

Iceland fieldwork 2013: field video released!

Birkbeck, University of London have released a short field-video we made documenting our July 2013 Mars-analogue fieldwork. This fieldwork was carried out as part of PhD student Jennifer Harris’s research on using reflectance spectroscopy and multispectral imaging to search for evidence of past habitability on Mars. To see the video, follow this link:  http://media.bloomsburymediacloud.org/media/iceland-field-trip-2013

Dramatic drainage at Kverkfjoll

A few days ago, on the 16th August, the large geothermal lake ‘Gengissig’ that sits atop the volcanic system of Kverkfjoll in central Iceland, emptied spectacularly producing a small jökulhlaup. This area has been a major focus for my research over the past few years, using it to address problems ranging from the identification of…

The last few days

Our car is dusty, and the living room has been reduced to a clutter of equipment and samples. We have reached the end of the trip, with nearly 10 gigabytes of data, over 1200 photos, and a few kg of Iceland stowed away in our bags. The last two days have seen us getting remaining…

Day 7 – Breakdown

After the spectrometer laptop failing, and AUPE’s pan-tilt software working to it’s own random tune, it was only a matter of time before something else failed. That thing was our car, fortunately first thing this morning before we’d headed off into the field. A pair of jump-leads and a lot of smoke later, a replacement…

Day 6 – Raining, breaking, fixing

The past few days have seen a mixture of successful instrument testing and frustrating hold-ups. Yesterday was a good day, with 3 rock outcrops imaged with the full suite of AUPE’s multispectral filters. This pretty much wrapped up AUPE’s work down on the hydrothermally-altered lava flows, capturing a wide variety of mineralogical terrains. We also…

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…

Day 2 – Going for an explore

Our first trip into the field sees us exploring potential sites at two main localities: Namafjall and Krafla. Both are characterised by beautifully coloured hydrothermally-altered basaltic terrain, and we spend the day balancing scientific value versus practicality as the afternoon gradually becomes colder, windier, and wetter. In the end, despite the impressiveness of the expansive…

Day 1 – Arrival!

After a 3 hour flight to Reykjavik, and an 8 hour drive clockwise around Iceland’s #1 road, we arrive at Lake Myvatn, our base for the next 8 days. Lake Myvatn is characterised by its numerous pseudocraters, or ‘rootless cones’, formed by lava that flowed over icy ground, producing small explosion craters. There are similar…