During the Easter break, a group of Senior House Geographers and Scientists set out to explore the wonders of Iceland. The children investigated volcanic activity, lava fields, hot springs, geysers, stunning waterfalls and dark, mysterious beaches.
The ‘Blue Lagoon’ was the first stop after the airport for a chance to relax and unwind. The geothermally heated seawater is rich in natural minerals and allows bathers to float effortlessly in the blue opaque water. This was followed by a trip to a lava field at the foot of the Blue Mountains and an expedition into a lava tube cave, a structure that once held molten rock heated to over 1000 C. During the winter time ice forms in the forward section of the cave and almost every stone is coated with a thin crust of ice; lava falls and other spectacular lava formations can be seen deep in these tunnels.
The children toured the Hellisheidi geothermal power plant (the second largest in the country) which provides renewable, clean electricity and hot water for the city of Reykjavik and industry on the island. They even produce enough hot water to heat the roads to keep them clear of snow! Many of the participants found this visit particularly fascinating as it chimed with their school studies around sustainability, as did their visit to a local swimming pool where Icelanders use geothermal energy to enhance their leisure time.
At the Eyjafjallajokull flood plain, the children saw firsthand the effects of a ‘jokulhlaup’ (glacier burst) that washed down the valley. They also had the opportunity to meet with a family affected by the 2010 eruption. They visited several magnificent waterfalls on their journey including Seljalandsfoss Skogafoss and the impressive Gullfoss. The children also walked along the black volcanic beach at Reynishverfi to see the magnificent basalt cliffs and caves. Here they studied the sea stacks, two giant columns of rock and the huge arch or Dyrholaey in the headland jutting out to sea.
The glacier walk (crampons, ice axes and all) was another highlight as the children explored the frozen glacier tongue of Solheimajokull, a wonderland of ice sculptures, ridges and deep crevasses. The visit was also an object lesson in the effects of global warming as the children saw for themselves the dramatic effect of glacial retreat with the consequent release of fresh water into the ocean.
Mr Tristan Igglesden, Head of Science, commented, “The children had a wonderful time in the land of ice and fire and packed in incredible adventures during their 5 day stay.”
Find out more
You can find out more about the trip from a website created by some of children:
They decided to include information about different aspects of Iceland (and the Arctic in general) that they found interesting and included some of their own photos and videos. Other children researched the Antarctic in a similar vein and created:
The children were encouraged to enter a photography and video competition, submitting up to three photos into each of the five categories: Water and Ice, Friends, Earth, Wildlife and a video clip up to a minute long. The idea was to capture the essence of Iceland from an individual point of view and to think about their experiences during the trip from different perspectives. Winners will be announced in Senior House Assembly. You can view some of the competition entries in the following gallery: