Iceland trip 2017

25 April 2017

A group of 19 students across Year 8, 9 & 10 together with Mr Butterworth and Miss Murphy safely arrived in Iceland yesterday afternoon!

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The 5 day trip will allow our students to broaden their physical geography knowledge and understanding through visiting and studying geomorphological features such as volcanoes, glaciers and tectonic features together with experiencing a foreign culture including languages, food and ways of life.

 

Please follow the group's activities below, to be updated daily:

Day 5: Friday, 28th April 2017

Early morning breakfast and transfer to Keflavik Airport, flying back to Manchester!

Day 4: Thursday, 27th April 2017

Secret Lagoon
The “Secret Lagoon” natural hot springs and bathing pool are located in the small village of Fluoir on the Golden Circle route.  With the steam rising into the air, the place has a magical feeling.  The water stays at 38-40 Celsius all year round and is perfect for bathing.  In the area, you’ll find several other geothermal springs, and a modest geyser, which erupts every 5 minutes, showing off for the guests relaxing in the lagoon!  Please note this is a natural pool and there are some large boulders under the water surface.

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Gullfoss
These double falls drop around 33m then plunge into a mile-long gorge – one of Iceland’s most photographed waterfalls.  Café, souvenir shop and toilets can be found here.

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Geysir
Visit the site of Geysir, a spouting hot spring that gave its name to all the world’s geysers.  Although it doesn’t often spout nowadays, its neighbour ‘Strokkur’ erupts every 10-15 minutes reaching a height of around 30m.  One of the trio of natural wonders on the Golden Circle route. 

Efstidalur dairy farm
Visit a working dairy farm where the barn has been converted into a restaurant, with windows into the cow shed, where you can watch the cows and calves in their daily environment.  The farm makes its own milk products such as ice-cream, skyr, feta cheese and more.

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Pingvellir (Thingvellir) 
This National Park is where Iceland’s parliament was established in 930AD.  The site straddles the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, its rift valley forming where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates pull apart at an average of 3cm a year.  From the Hakio Visitor Centre enjoy an overview of the site and its geology.  Then, walk among the rifts and see ropy pahoehoe lava from a shield volcano eruption, as you learn of the events that shaped Iceland’s early history.  As you gaze into the water-filled fissure Peningagja, note how clear the water is, having been filtered through lava before it enters the lake. 

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Day 3: Wednesday, 26th April 2017

Beaches Day The tour guide advised our students about the safety of the sea.  The local recommendation is to keep away at least 20 metres from the sea, but they suggest to err on the side of caution.  Even when the sea appears to be calm, freak waves can occur with very little warning and potentially fatal consequences.

Vik
At this tiny coastal town, walk down to the black sand beach and view the remarkable sea stacks – Reynisdrangar.  Whilst geologists talk of volcanic plugs, folklore tells a different version of how this spectacular natural monument was formed.  Debris from the Katla eruption of 1918 extended Vik’s coastline by 500m and you can see how the locals have responded to the threat of ‘jokulhlaup’ at different stages in the village’s history.  Just west of the town, observe the dyke built to protect the settlement from future flooding. 

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Reynishverfi
Walk along the black volcanic beach to see magnificent basalt cliffs and caves.  Take photos standing and sitting on the basalt columns!

Loftsalir
Weathering landscape and amazing display of unusual rock formations, near Dyrholaey.

Dyrholaey
The name means ‘door hill island’ – with its 120m high natural rock arch this prominent headland is likely to have been formed in a submarine eruption similar to that of Surtsey Island in 1963.  On a clear day, enjoy spectacular views of the volcano Eyjafjallajokull and icecap Myrdalsjokull.

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Skogafoss
Another of Iceland’s most impressive waterfalls – with a wide, thundering curtain of water 60m high.  See farms evacuated during the Eyjafjallajokull eruption, as they were cloaked with ash from the volcano.

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Eyjafjallajokull Visitor Centre at Thorvaldseyri
Gain insight into the impacts of the 2010 Eyjafjallajokull eruption on the local community.  The centre features breath taking images of the eruption and an interesting documentary film about how the family at Thorvaldseyri farm coped during and after the event.

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Hverageroi
The small ‘greenhouse’ town of Hverageroi is a place of abundant geothermal activity, its surrounding hills dotted with hot springs.  Observe the many ways in which the inhabitants utilise this natural resource.  As you tour the town or take a short hike to the hot springs that appeared after the Olfus earthquake in 2008.

Earthquake simulator Hveragerdi
Visit the small shopping mall to view a fissure next to the Tourist Office and experience the earthquake simulator.

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Day 2: Tuesday, 25th April 2017

After breakfast the group collected their packed lunches for the day and set off on the coach with the tour guide.

Whale Watching
Regular sightings of white-beaked dolphins and minke whales are likely and occasionally other species such as humpback whale and orca are spotted. 

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Hellisheioi Geothermal Power Station
An excellent interactive presentation, followed by a guided viewing of the turbines.  The world’s sixth largest geothermal power plant is sited in a high temperature geothermal area just east of the capital.  Drawing on steam and hot water reserves, the plant’s 30 boreholes power six high-pressure 45MW turbines and one 33MW low-pressure turbine to produce 303MW of electricity and 400MW of thermal energy.

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Eyjafjallajokull flood plain
Drive past the area affected by a jokullhlaup (glacier burst) from the 2010 Eyjafjallajokull volcanic eruption, where you’ll note the aftermath of a glacial flood which washed down the valley damaging farmland, roads and bridges.

Seljalandsfoss
This waterfall’s plume spills 60m over a former sea cliff, now sited far inland due to isostatic rebound.  Subject to weather and ice conditions it is possible to walk behind the waterfall (tour guide will advise).

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Solheimajokull
Solheimajokull ‘sun house glacier’ has been retreating since the end of the 19th century at a rate of around 100m per year.  Sited in a scenic 8km long valley, from a safe distance, you can marvel at the jumble of crevasses on the glacier’s surface and the chaos of stony moraines, rock and sand, revealed as it melts. This is one of several outlet glaciers from the Myrdalsjokull icecap, which conceals one of Iceland’s most active volcanoes – Katla.  

 

Day 1: Monday, 24th April 2017

After arriving safely at Keflavik International at 3pm, our group travelled to the Reykjanes Peninsula.

Bridge between Continents
Driving past lava fields and crater rows to the Bridge between Continents, spanning a fissure acknowledged to be the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, which runs through Iceland.  Crossing this symbolic bridge, they witnessed the effects of continental drift.

Reykjanesviti & Valahnukur
Reykjanesviti is Iceland's oldest lighthouse, built in 1878.  It measures 31 metres (102ft) in height whilst its focal plane measures 73 metres above sea level.  Nearby is Mt. Valahnukur, composed of tuff layers, pillow lava and breccia.  The mountain was formed in a single eruption and shows evidence of the different phases of the eruption.  Below is a magical stretch of coastline where you can clamber up grassy banks and peer over the indented cliff sides at crashing waves.  From the coast you can see the striking, near-cylindrical island Eldey, a bird preserve 15km (9.5 miles) offshore, which is part of the same volcanic rift line that formed Valahnukur.

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Gunnuhver & Reykjanes Geothermal Power Station
Here you can take a walk amongst mud pools and steam vents and view the vigorously bubbling Gunnuhver, Iceland's largest mud pool with a diameter of 20m.  These form where steam generated from a geothermal reservoir emanates and condenses, mixing with surface water.  Accompanying gases such as carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulphide make the water acidic, which causes alteration of the lava to clay.  Nearby, see the Reykjanes geothermal power plant (exterior viewing only) and observe how the ocean shapes Iceland's coastal landscapes.

 

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