Iceland 2015: Workshop on Rauðhólar and the Laki Lava Flow



The goal of this workshop was to bring together a community of Earth and Planetary Scientists with diverse perspectives to examine the products of explosive lavawater interactions within Rauðhólar and flood lava flows associated with Lakagígar (or Laki for short).

The Rauðhólar rootless cone group is located within the ~5200 year old Elliðaá lava flow (Elliðaáhraun in Icelandic) in the Western Volcanic Zone of Iceland. Rauðhólar is situated where Elliðaáhraun entered a shallow paleo-lake basin to form a ~2-km-wide flow that includes over 140 rootless eruption sites. The tephra deposits associated with the were partially quarried in the early- to mid-twentieth century, which provides extrodinary windows into the internal stratigraphy of the these volcanic rootless cones. Our team examined the layering structure within these quarry exposures and tested a variety of remote sensing techniques to better understand the formation of the deposits. These methods included ground penetrating radar, kite-based imaging, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) surveys.

The Laki eruption is the largest histrocial flood lava eruption to have occured in Iceland. It was active for an eight month period between June 8, 1783 to Feburary 7, 1784. During this time 14.7±1.0 km3 of magma was erupted, generating a lava flow field covering nearly 600 km². The eruption site itself is morphologically similar to many lava flows observed on the surface of Mars and therefore Laki provides an exceptional opportunity to study flood lava eruptions processes that are important for understanding major eruptions on the Earth and other planetary surfaces. The field workshop involved 15 researchers from the United States of America, working in collaboration with the University of Iceland.


Dates: August 1–16, 2015

Organizer: Christopher W. Hamilton

Partner Institutions: Arizona State University, Drexel University, Franklin & Marshall College, United States Geologic Survey, University of Arizona, University of Iceland, University of Georgia, University of Tennesse.

Photography By: Selena G. Valencia


Click on images below for more details.