Site 1 - Seltun, Reykjanes Peninsula
After loading our trusty 4x4 Suzuki Jimny with our sampling gear, we headed off heading west from Reykjavik. Leaving the highway to go in the direction of Kruysuvik, the paved road soon ended (I love that about Iceland, the driving is always so much fun!). Thankfully the rain had stopped by the time we got to our destination, which was visible miles from the destination by the billowing of steam emanating from the site!
Arrival at Seltun
The source of the steam visible from liles away! Person on path for scale
Seltun is interesting because it is a volcanic center on the Mid-Atlantic ridge. Lava eruptions nearby in the 12th century reached the ocean. Other eruptions occurred later in the 14th century.
Seltun is indicated in the middle.
You can see the lava flow that reached the ocean in 1151!
Because it was quite heavy with tourists and we'd be sampling off the boardwalk, Katie and I decided to hike around and check out which spring we wanted to sample. Turns out this was difficult as I have to filter all the water and the spring waters were all muddy! The hike was gorgeous though as you can glimpse from these pictures (all courtesy Katie Sopher)
Steam, everywhere steam!
hellish and beautiful
Seltun parking load in the background and gorgeous flora in the foreground
Dried up mud-pot
Inactive springs reveal stunning colors! Here mostly due to sulfur and sulfur minerals
The hike was insightful. From the Seltun parking lot, only the boardwalk allows safe access to the hot springs there. Those that are higher up are not safe. In one area, there was so much steam inside a "crater" (probably leftover from a maar) that the boiling springs where not visible, yet you could hear them grumble away below. Surely the entrance to hell. Jules Verne was not wrong in stating that the entrance to the center of the Earth was in Iceland (albeit in the Snaefells volcano, which is 3 hrs drive away from Seltun). Seltun turns out to be not ideal for what I'm doing, since my chemical analyses require clear water, and all the waters here are muddy. Thankfully I have filters, but these will clog up fast!
We settled on a small spring that was not too cloudy (but still too much for my taste). Here is me hauling my gear to it and some views of the little spring (small but mighty! It was bubbling vigorously)
The yellow box i'm carrying is a peripump, so I don't have to stay close to the spring at all times
Measuring the pH and temperature of the spring with tourists working by.
I got to do quite a bit of outreach!
Filtering the muddy waters. What a chore!
Seltun was by far the most acidic environment we sampled during our Iceland exploration. The acidity (pH) was regularly near 2, similar to freshly squeezed lemon juice, but that spring was not quite as appetizing..
A good day in the field! Our next stop is the spring with one of the highest discharges in the world. Stay tuned!