Iceland 2015: Field Workshop on Active Lava–Water Interactions

LiDAR Group Photo

Participants from left to right: Laz Kestay, Shane Byrne, Jacob Richardson, Mike Sori, Margaret Landis, Colin Dundas, Ali Bramson, Patrick Whelley, Catherine Neish, Stephen Scheidt, Amber Keske, Sarah Sutton, Ethan Schaefer, Elise Rumpf, Christopher Hamilton, Einat Lev, and Andy Ryan


The goal of this workshop was to bring together a community of Earth and Planetary Scientists with diverse perspectives to examine the 2014–2015 eruption at Holuhraun in Iceland. A precursor for the eruption occurred on August 29, 2014 with the main phase lasting from August 31, 2014 to February 27, 2015. It is the largest eruption to have occurred in Iceland during the past 230 years, generating 1.5–2.0 km3 of lava. The flow inundated a segment of the Jökulsá á Fjöllum—Iceland’s highest discharge river—resulting in unusual forms of hydrothermal activity. The lava diverted part of the river, but a substantial flux of water continues to flow under and through the lava, emerging as steam plumes and hot springs near the flow front. The lava itself is morphologically similar to many lava flows observed on the surface of Mars, particularly in the Tharsis region. Consequently, this eruption provides an exceptional opportunity to study processes important to both Earth and Planetary Sciences. The field workshop involved 17 researchers from the United States of America and Canada, working in collaboration with the University of Iceland.

Overall the workshop included four themes: (1) LiDAR surveys of the near vent region; (2) Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS) measurements of the flow margins and surface topography; (3) Characterization of the thermal emission from hot springs; and (4) Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) and kite-based imaging of the lava and its surroundings.


Dates: August 20–28, 2015

Organizer: Christopher W. Hamilton

Partner Institutions: Arizona State University, Columbia University, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, United States Geologic Survey, University of Arizona, University of Iceland, University of Southern Florida, University of Western Ontario

Related Conference Presentations

Hamilton et al. (2015) Applications of unmanned aerial vehicles to the study of volcanic landforms. GSA, Baltimore, MD, USA, November 1-4, Abstract 289-3.

Related Publications

Hamilton CW (2015) Team gets firsthand look at the new Holuhraun eruption site. Eos, 96, doi:10.1029/2015EO041197.


Click on images below for more details.

Aerial Remote Sensing
Hot Springs