Nov Meeting: Sojourn in Iceland, Land of Fire and Ice – Nov 16th

November Membership Meeting: Sojourn in Iceland, Land of Fire and Ice
7:00 PM Room 129 Olin Hall Whitman College Campus

Pat Spencer, Professor of Geology – Whitman College will discuss a recent excursion to Iceland.

From a geological perspective, Iceland is one of the most unique places in the world. Located in the North Atlantic Ocean between Greenland and northern Europe, it is an exposed part of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the geological and tectonic boundary between the North American and Eurasian plates. The eastern half of Iceland is moving to the east, while the western half is moving to the west. In theory if not in reality, one can straddle the boundary between two major tectonic provinces. The northern-most part of Iceland, Grimsey Island, is above the Arctic Circle. In southern Iceland, the island of Surtsey is among the youngest islands in the world, having emerged from the sea during an eruptive phase in the 1960’s. Surtsey is now the site of multiple geological and biological research efforts.

The scenery in Iceland is spectacular, from blue lagoons of hot water to active glaciers; from towering active volcanic peaks to old valleys recently carved Ice Age glaciers which are now gone. Iceland is a study in geological contrasts and provides an excellent opportunity to gain a better understanding of the interactions between natural geological processes and human civilization. In addition, many of the fundamental underpinnings of the guiding theory of modern Geology, Plate Tectonics, were in part supported by observations made in Iceland.

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