Geology Students to Explore Iceland

Wheaton professors Geoff Collins and Matthew Evans are steadily planning a research trip to Iceland for students this upcoming summer. Collins stated, “We’ll be helping students develop their own field research projects before we take off for Iceland.  Iceland is a geological wonderland where you can see all kinds of Earth processes happening before your eyes, and there’s no shortage of interesting projects to pursue.”

Collins elaborated on the premise of the trip: “The idea for running the trip around student projects came from the successful field geology seminar I ran with Wheaton students in Death Valley, California, in 2014.”

On the selection of a location for the trip, Collins said, “Iceland is a classic pilgrimage spot for geologists, because it’s one of the only places where you can watch the Earth’s plates split apart and form new crust.” He added, “There are so many things you can see in Iceland that you can’t see in the eastern United States: glaciers, active faults and active volcanoes. While other parts of the world also have features like these, very few places combine them together in such a small and spectacular place. “

Collins and Evans intend to travel across the island, stating, “We’ll be doing a full circuit around the island, but most of our work will be near three ‘home bases’: one in the southwest near Reykjavik, where we can work on thermal springs and plate boundary problems; one in the southeast near Vatnajökull national park, where we can work on glaciers and lava-ice interactions; and one in the north near Lake Myvatn, where we can work on recent lava flows and tectonics.”

The project has been in development for an extensive amount of time. “Matt Evans and I have talked about doing an Iceland trip with students for almost a decade,” Collins said.

Collins hopes to see other projects take off as well, stating, “There’s also other places we’d like to go with students in the future!”