Fire and Ice
Volcanic hotspot creates cool research opportunity in Iceland
by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson
July 25, 2013
There are many cool field-research opportunities at Dickinson, but none are as downright chilly as those offered by Associate
Professor of Earth Sciences Ben Edwards. With funding from the National Science Foundation, Edwards and his students beat the summer heat in Iceland, one of few places on earth where pillow lava is found on land.
Named for its pillow-like appearance, the lava is formed when an erupting volcano extrudes magma under sheets of ice. To access it, Edwards, Ellen Was '14, Aleksander Perpalaj '14, Elizabeth Plascencia '16 and other members of their research team climbed inside and around volcanoes and ventured across glaciers. By the end of their trip, they had collected and classified hundreds of samples, using GIS technology
to record the location and properties of each one.
first I had trouble identifying the distinct features of pillow lava, but after almost three
weeks of collecting samples, I gained a significant amount of experience,” says Plascencia, a
rising sophomore and Posse scholar who is considering a
career in volcanic seismology. “I could not have asked for a more
worthwhile research experience.”