April 2011 fieldwork Virkisjökull Earth Observatory, Iceland

The BGS vehicle, on the track to Virkisjökull.

Virkisjökull at sunset.

BGS scientists, Dr Jez Everest, Tom Shanahan, Andrew Finlayson, and Heiko Buxel are heading to Iceland to continue installations of monitoring equipment at Virkisjökull, an outlet glacier of the Oraefajökull ice cap.

The team will install a network of seismometers around the glacier to monitor seismic activity related to glacier motion. As a bonus the network should also pick up any volcanic activity on Oraefi, one of Europe's largest volcanoes.

The team will also install HD cameras on each of the two BGS weather stations at the site, enabling us to download images of the glacier margin and icefall. The still images with be also converted into timelapse movies that will provide information to show how the glacier flows in its trough.

Follow the 2011 fieldwork

Installations and upgrades

The field work starts on 4 April when Jez will collect a 4×4, and spend two days buying equipment and supplies in Reykjavik, before collecting the rest of the team from Keflavik airport on the 6 April.

From there they will drive 300 km to the field base at Svinafell, a small settlement nestling below the southern flanks of the volcano in the Skaftafell National Park.

From Oli Sigurdsson's comfortable house, the team will head up to the glacier each day to install the seismometers, and hook up the small wind turbines that will be used to maintain power to the instruments throughout the year.

While they are in the field the team will upgrade the weather stations with the cameras, and carry out any general maintenance needed as a result of the harsh winter.

The snows have only just started to melt, and Iceland has a reputation for some pretty foul weather, so the fieldwork may well be done under fairly challenging conditions.

You should be able to check how cold and wet the team are getting by taking a look at the regular BGS Virkisjökull weather station data downloads (available free from the Virkisjökull project web pages).

The team will head home on the 19 April, to return in September to complete the third annual Terrestrial LiDAR scan of the glacier margin and foreland, the start of glacier meltwater and groundwater flow monitoring, and geomorphological and sedimentological investigations on the foreland and beneath the ice.

The Oraefajökull ice cap and Europe's second largest volcano, viewed from the east on Breidamerkursandur.


Contact Jez Everest for further information.