Sólheimajökull Day 1: Crampon, Crampoff

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Hello! My name is Lillian and I’m a senior Computer Science major. Today we hiked the glacier Sólheimajökull! Sólheimajökull is an outlet glacier of the glacier Mýrdalsjökull, meaning that it originates from Mýrdalsjökull through a valley. Sólheimajökull is also interesting in that it is covered in lots of ash from the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in 2010.

We woke up in Vik to the sound of roosters. For a few people in the group, this was a nice reminder of home! Then we piled into the vans for the half-hour drive to the glacier.

One hen came up to hang out with us!


Gummi and Oddur lead us on our hike on Sólheimajökull. They both work in Reykjavík and have lead the IFS group on Sólheimajökull for multiple years. We divided into two groups, one with Gummi and Em and one with Oddur and Charlie. Then we split up with one group walking along the northwest side and one group walking the southeast side of the glacier. Before walking on the glacier, we had to put crampons on our boots in order to hike the glacier with more traction.

Walking to the glacier from the parking lot. This area would have been covered by the glacier within 20 years ago, but due to climate change, it is receding quickly.
Gummi and Em’s group with a great view past the tip of the glacier!
Oddur and Charlie’s group (minus me taking the photo)


After the two groups met on the top of the glacier, we ate lunch and did some drone flying!

We had a hard time not getting a little sunburnt on the glacer, but we’re clearly having a great time!
Obligatory drone selfie!


After lunch, each group climbed down the glacier opposite the way we came.


Sólheimajökull had many deep crevasses that Gummi and Oddur helped us navigate around.
A neat discovery found under a mound of ash and ice by my group!


After thanking and saying goodbye to Gummi and Oddur, we left to travel back to Vik. On the way, we stopped by Reynisfjara Beach, famous for its basalt columns, and for being the site of multiple films and movies, including Rogue One and Game of Thrones!

Group photo sitting on the basalt columns!


Group photo in the cave in the basalt wall!


Part of Charlie’s job description is to help students to get good photo ops.


After arriving back in Vik, we had an amazing Chinese dinner cooked by Li with the help of Joyce, Roger, and Mubi! Then we prepared to take soil samples around Sólheimajökull the next day.

Mountain Hike, Off the Island, Onto the South Coast

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The first thing we did after waking up was hiking up the 2nd mountain. For me, it was Helgafell, which is older compared to Eldfell, and is located towards the southeast part of the island of Heimaey. While hiking, we continued monitoring the altitude we were measuring yesterday with elevation platforms.

On the hike up to Helgafell, with the Sun shining down on us
View of airport and the southern end of Heimaey from the top of Helgafell

We returned to the hostel to feed ourselves lunch and to pack up for our ferry back to the mainland. Then we all got into our vans and drove towards Vik, a town close to the southern coast of Iceland, where we planned to stay for the next 3 nights. To finish off, E made some delicious veggie soup with bread and salad that had to be devoured.

Graffiti spotted on the way to the ferry from Heimaey
We stopped at Seljalandsfoss, a wonderful tourist attraction, on the way to Vik

Eldheimar Museum and Hiking

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Tuesday, June 4, 2019         No rain = beautiful weather, again

For the morning, the group of students walked to the Eldheimar museum and learned about the volcano eruption in Heimaey in 1973. It is a very cool museum where we walked around with audio guides that sense our location and play the corresponding audio. It is built around an excavation site after the eruption. We were able to see the ruin of a house, the model of the path of the lava flow which almost closed the port of the island, learn about what people were doing during the time and a newly created island by lava, Surtsey.

In the afternoon, we split up into two groups. One group hiked the Helgafell and the other hiked Eldfell. I hiked Helgafell. It was really fun with loose rocks and steep slopes. Despite being forecasted to be around 0 Celsius and windy, it was so warm and we had to shed layers during our hike. Our little science exercise for the hikes was to measure the pressure at sea level and at the top of each mountain that we hiked, and compare the margin of errors between devices and with the elevation marked (the accurate standard). Tomorrow, we will hike the other mountain and do the same thing.

A group photo with the puffin before we split.

The Eldfell group.

The view from Helgafell. If we look towards Eldfell, we can distinguish the new land that was created by the lava.

Cat of the Day! We met this cute little cat on our way back from Helgafell.

After dinner at Gott (a very nice restaurant), we (people shown in the picture above) biked to the south side of the island to see puffins. It was a rough bike ride! But it was worth it. Sheep and horses also became our friends for the ride.

Since we were on the south of the island, we hypothesized this was Surtsey.


On the way to Heimaey

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The weather has been unbelievably fabulous for three days on a roll. On the morning of Monday, June 3, 2019, the IFS group said goodbye to the Igdlo Hostel in Reykjavík and headed southeast. Our final destination for the day is Heimaey, a small island to the south of Iceland that can be reached by ferry. On our way to the ferry station, we stopped at the Commonwealth farm and a dam.

After packing and loading the van, we played cards while waiting for the people who went shopping to come back at the Igdlo picnic table.

It was noon and windy when we got off the car! The Commonwealth Farm is a replica of what has been dug up at the archeological sites in Iceland. We visited with the goal of getting a better idea of what we will be working with at the archeological site in Stod. The replica consists of a turf house and a small church next to it. In the turf house, we found items such as clothing, swords, wools, benches, and “bedrooms.” It shows how people back then might have lived and worked. Some of us commented it as no privacy because mostly everyone slept on a long bed bench altogether, with the one or two exceptions of high-status people sleeping in a small closet with space to lay down.

E is holding a sword in the turf house.

The right is the small church and the left is the turf house.


What are they looking at?

The dam!


Then, we had very much fun searching for a former forest that was destroyed by the eruption of Hekla in 1104.

Why was it fun?

Our van almost got stuck in the soft gravel. Fortunately, everyone got off the van except Charlie, the driver, and we were unstuck. The image below shows the track.

Our search for the forest was stopped by a small creek, so we enjoyed the view and played skipping rocks.

It was time to hop on the ferry. The experience was exciting for some of us, but not so much for those with motion sickness. I enjoyed bird watching with binoculars and the ocean breeze!

The tail of the ferry producing waves.

We arrived at the Heimaey Hostel save and sound. Thanks to Kathryn and Jordan, we had delicious pasta to fill our stomach before going to bed!

Waterfalls Galore

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Hello all, it’s me again, Kathryn! Today we put our tourists caps on again and went to the National Museum. The museum was incredibly informative, it told the story of the people of Iceland (how they got there, who they were, and what they became). My favorite exhibit in the museum was of the bath-house (I don’t recall the name in Icelandic). What is interesting about the bath-house is that it slowly evolved into the main-house because it was the warmest place to be. My favorite place in the museum was this little corner on the second floor where there was a chess table next to some books with some extremely comfy couches (I almost feel asleep there!).

This is the bath-house that in it’s later stages no longer resembled one.

This is the little nook I mentioned above. Sydney and Porter played a game of chess. You can take your guess on who won.

After the museum we headed to the Althing (the oldest and first form of Icelandic government). The location of the Althing is important for both historical/cultural reasons and geological ones. The Althing is where the North American and European plates are separating to form new land.

Currently Lilli is between the North American (right) and European (left) plates. This walk way leads to where the Althing was held.

This is flag is where it was held. The Althing was a long event and folks would set up tents to claim their spot, and you can still see those imprints in the ground.

A little past the Althing is this beautiful waterfall, the first one I’ve seen in Iceland (I have been told that there are many waterfalls in Iceland). The nice thing about Iceland is that because the water is so clean, you can re-fill your water bottle there. And I can tell you that it is the best water I’ve ever had.

After finish touring the Althing, we left to go see another, much bigger waterfall. On the way, we were able to see Hekla (by some miracle) through the haze, and drove through the town called Geyser. Interestingly, geysers (the geological phenomenon) is named after the town because there are so many of them. We did not stop there because according to E and C, it is just a tourist trap.

For size reference, there is a trail on the right side of the photo where people are walking.

This is a much nicer photo of the waterfall courtesy of Roger and his fancy camera.

And the obligatory group photo and a rainbow in the background.

To finish off the day Mubi served everyone an absolutely delicious meal of stir-fry ramen. Well, it’s time for bed for me, even though it’s still light out (that’s going to take some getting used to).


Adventure Time!

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The Iceland trip is officially in progress! I should probably introduce myself (and everyone else) before I continue on, I’m Kathryn Hulleman and I am a biochemistry junior.

This is all of us students on the trip, and from right to left: Li, Jordan, Joyce, Roger, Lilli, Kathryn (me), Sydney, Porter, Kaela, and Mubi.

Today was a long day (or two depending on how you count). Fortunately for us, all of the flights went smoothly (no missed flights, delays or people). We passed the time in the Minneapolis airport by playing codenames. On the way into Reykjavik, there was interesting statue. That is wait for it… An egg with a jet hatching out of it.

Luckily for us, the weather was beautiful when we arrived in Iceland— nice and sunny, no rain, and a minimal breeze. To start off the trip, E and C (plus me) went out shopping for food while everyone else took a nice, needed nap. After lunch, which was sandwiches with smoked lamb and some Swiss cheese, and with full bellies, we started out on adventure to the downtown area lead by Em. Em’s tip for not getting lost in Reykjavik is to know how to get home from the concrete church, because it is visible in from most of the downtown area.

Some highlights from our walk around Reykjavik included:

  • We saw a beautiful black cat named Kisa who was very soft and friendly.
  • There was a flight show going on to celebrate a 100 years of flight in Iceland. I saw many planes doing tricks out on the harbor (one even did two or three loop-d-loops in a row
  • Seeing the Icelandic version of the Sydney opera house (as Kaela pointed out). It is a concert hall over the harbor meant to imitate the look of basalt columns.
  • We went into the flea market and then hanging out in the parliament park to enjoy the Iceland air.

Charlie and Jordan cooked a delicious meal of baked cod with leaks, mashed potatoes and a salad. And now for the photos!

This is the beautiful cat Kisa who graced our presence this morning!

Here is Sydney (with Porter and Mubi in the background) on the street of downtown Reykjavik. As you can see the sun is out and there is almost no wind! This nice of weather probably won’t happen again on the trip, but one can hope!

Porter and I have started a trend of imitating statues throughout the city (with much goading on Kaela and Sydney’s part) which we hope to continue throughout the trip.


And that concludes all that we did for today. I for one am ready for bed and can’t wait for what tomorrow brings!


Rebuilding Kia

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This post is meant to be a fairly general outline to repairing the gimbal on DJI P3As, containing links we used (Rei and Dan) while replacing the arm on Kia after an unfortunate encounter a very breezy day. Will also contain some notes on working on the body and replacing the landing gear.


To repair cracks in the body we used different glues based on the size of the crack. For small hairline cracks, we used Bsi super thin (blue lid). Be careful you only need a little bit and it’s easier to add more than take some off. For larger cracks, we used Bsi gap-filling medium (purple lid). When repairing the body be careful not to glue the frame together, if you don’t want to separate the top and bottom, you can slip a piece of paper in between to prevent supergluing the body together.


After futzing with the ribbon enough times we wore out the adhesive, to replace it we used auto/marine sealant.


Open the shell using a T-6, T-8, and T-9. Every screw that doesn’t connect the legs needs to come out. There are 8 locks that hold the top and bottom together, one on each of the arms, and one along each face of the body, think a compass with the ordinal as well as cardinal directions where the ordinal are the arms and the cardinal the faces on the body.

Slide a propeller in the space between the top and bottom of each arm, take care to get the propeller under the wire connecting the motor to its board. Move the propellers together, unlock each of the arms catches before starting on the body catches. Be careful with the body catches as they’re close to the delicate electronics.


Gimbal repair(ribbon cable, arms)-Small Phillips head. Exacto knife, a small flathead, and the green squidge were all very helpful.




To replace the ribbon start by attaching the camera connection first as it is the most difficult, and a real PIA to do when everything else is glued in place. Use exacto knives, fingernails, or small flatheads to pop the latch into and out of place, making sure that the cable is inserted all the way to the white line when installing. The cable has to be wrapped around the connection twice, which is what makes this step the most difficult. If you have to undo the connection the easiest way is to put an exacto knife between the outside of the camera case and the cable, with the blunt edge touching the wire as it enters the camera case, and twist the knife in the direction of the cable.  We found it easiest to take the cover off each tape as we did it instead of all at once.



-Rei and Dan

I Participated in IFS2018 and all I got was “Hooked on a Feeling” Stuck in my Head

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Sing it with us now … (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NrI-UBIB8Jk)

Ooga-chaka Ooga-Ooga
Ooga-chaka Ooga-Ooga
Ooga-chaka Ooga-Ooga
Ooga-chaka Ooga-Ooga

I can’t stop this feeling
Deep inside of me
Iceland, you just don’t realize
What you do to me

So much day-light
There is never night
Hiked a glacier
Everything’s all right

I’m hooked on a feeling
I’m high on believing
The beauty of this place

Terns aren’t sweet as candy

They dive-bomb all the time
Chicks got weighed and measured
Getting pooped on is just fine

We got bugs on stickers
But we don’t need no cure
Just keep flying Kia
We’ll get data for sure

Let’s play Euchre

Or some Carcassonne
Oh-oh, Iceland
Yeah, you turn me on

I’m hooked on a feeling
I’m high on believing
The beauty of this place

Did some camping
Spent some time alone
Oh-oh, Iceland
Yeah, you turn me on

I’m hooked on a feeling
I’m high on believing
The beauty of this place

I’m hooked on a feeling
And I’m high on believin’
The beauty of this place

I said I’m hooked on a feeling
And I’m high on believin’
The beauty of this place

Icelandic Field Studies 2018 is officially in the books. It was a great trip. It’s hard to believe we have been in country for 3 full weeks – things have gone by so fast. There were many firsts on this trip – it was the first trip to collect soil for aDNA extraction from an archaeological dig. The first measurement of tern eggs and hatchling weight in lupine vs. non-lupine environments. The first Earlham study of insect populations in lupine vs. non-lupine environments. The first structure-for-motion attempts from our drones. The first camping trips into the Skálanes hills. The first hikes in the Klauster hills. The first viewing of Iceland in the World Cup!

We had lots of similarities from previous years. We toured the Golden Circle to see historical and natural sites of interest. We hiked the volcanoes on Heimaey to test our elevation platforms. We spent quality time at Sólheimajökull, using our elevation platforms and drone to approximate the volume of its nose, as well as collecting soil for bacterial DNA extraction and measurement. We enjoyed our stay at Skálanes – what a beautiful and soul-filling place. We played many a game of Euchre, Carcassonne and Settlers of Catan.

To everyone following along on this blog, thanks. We’ve had a really great time. We got to know each other better, and at one point or another we all had “Hooked on a Feeling” stuck in our heads (thanks, Dre!). We hope we’ve been able to share some of this experience with you – though you can’t fully experience Iceland without being here. The stark beauty and power of the landscape has a unique pull on the soul. If you are able to visit, please do so – and get off the beaten path for a day or two. Give yourself the gift of Icelandic solitude.

Signing off till next year,

Emi Smith (and the whole IFS crew)


Midnight Sun and Prepping for a Home Run

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The longest day of the year didn’t feel especially long here in Iceland. Because it is light through the night anyway and also cloudy a lot of the time, it is hard to tell when the sun is setting or rising. It gets darker here but there is no definite “night” like what I am used to in the U.S. where the line between night and day is as clear as the darkness.  Everyday has felt like it brought with it a midnight sun but the solstice was still a noteworthy day here.

Some of us spent the day ticking off Reykjavik’s many art museums; going from contemporary to modern to sculpture to traditional or any combination thereof. Icelanders seem to be very nice people which has taken me aback many times as cars actually stop and wave you across the street even if you aren’t at a crosswalk. Some of us found that they even give away free books! An Art Museum next to our hostel had boxes filled with cool books they were giving away so some of us were able to update our collections.

Others spent time perusing the city streets taking in the art and going shopping sometimes putting a little thrift into it. A notable moment of the day was when Croatia upset Argentina 3-0 in the football World Cup. Which went against most predictions.

This may have been mentioned before but the 2008 economic crash also affected Iceland. Some would say it was worse here than in the U.S. The Icelandic parliament decided to try to pull itself out of the meltdown and not take very much help from the International Monetary Fund. This marked a period where national solidarity and support was a necessity. Remnants of that period in Icelandic history is still very visible today. The visual symbol used to represent and encourage this morale and solidarity at the time was a red heart. Walking around Reykjavík the heart appears in street art all over the city. A warm reminder of how resilient this tiny country can be.

To mark the day of midnight sun a 5k, 10k, and half marathon were put on in order to commemorate the symbolic date. More than 1600 people registered with about 1000 of those being tourists including myself, Kellen, Faith and Andy. Many people even flew in just for the solstice run. We met up with the sister of an Earlham alum who was looking to get out of the country and do something fun for the solstice so ended up flying in the night before the run from San Francisco, CA. The Earlham team ran the course in pretty good time and ended with a long relaxing soak in the geothermal pool right next to the end of the run. Iceland takes their pools to a whole new level. The water is geothermally heated and because the weather is pretty cool here the pools are kept warm. There are also varying levels of hot-tubs as well as an ice-barrel that you can plunge into. Needless to say it was the perfect end to a midnight run.

Today also marked the beginning of the end as it was our last full day in Iceland. Tomorrow we will be packing all our stuff and flying home. Apart from walking running and sightseeing, today also offered a space for some reflection as we had our last dinner meeting of the trip. This has been a time where we all come together, eat good food, make announcements, talk about what people have done or are going to do the next day and also do cheers and jeers where we acknowledge things which merit praise or bring up points of contention or discussion or things we want to change. Tonight we heard cheers for the group getting along so well, to the weather for showing us benevolent sunshine more often than not, for everybody who cooked dinners over the trip,  for Charlie who was the catalyst for Icelandic Field Studies about 6 years ago, and for the Scantlands who have helped fund this trip along with all the other EPIC adventures.

Personally I am grateful for the optimism and hope this tiny and beautifully barren country has given me. When Leaving Skalanes, Olí described to us the shift he has been observing over the past 13 years. Not a shift towards increasing environmental degradation and decreasing biodiversity as species are driven to extinction which we have become so used to seeing and hearing. But a shift towards the other end of the spectrum where species are thriving, where more fish and whales are coming into the Fjord and the bird populations are increasing. Even in the preliminary data we have gathered, although we haven’t fully analyzed it, is making me think that the highly invasive Lupin that is ravaging the Icelandic landscape may not be be threatening the terns and the pollinators as much as we thought it might.  Even in regards to the country as a whole, it uses almost 100% renewable energy and is actively working to improve its emissions. This paints a picture that the world may not be falling into ruin as quickly as I thought it was before I came here. And that the global changes we are seeing may have a reciprocal nature in places like Skalanes, that if we look close enough, we can find faint glimmers of resistance to the tailspin narrative of global degradation. So with that, cheers to Iceland!

Áfram Ísland

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Last night a group of us decided to go camping. We arrived at the camping spot around 11 pm feeling a little bit tired after the hike. However, we didn’t want to sleep right away, so Arlo and I went exploring our surroundings while the rest were playing Euchre (well, except Faith who went to sleep.)

The next morning started with Eli’s alarm and then with the pleasant sounds of the nearby waterfall. After some morning stretching, we decided to have a few minutes alone to enjoy the beautiful scenery around us. We then headed back to the house for breakfast and joined the 9 am briefing meeting.

Today marked a special day for the entire nation of Iceland. At 1 pm, Iceland marked its debut on the World Cup against Argentina. To be part of such occasion, Oli made sure we had a bus pick us up and drive us to Seyðisfjörður where we would watch the game. While most of us were getting ready for the kickoff, Dan, Emi and I had already our Iceland jerseys and scarfs on. Before leaving, Dan sparked our excitement by presenting a brief history of Iceland’s national team.

We arrived at Seyðisfjörður around noon. Having one hour available before the kickoff, we went to a local market and then ate lunch at a nearby restaurant. At 1 pm we were at a community center were locals from Seyðisfjörður had set up a giant projector to watch the game. Finally, the moment I had personally been waiting since I joined this program arrived. It was kick off time. After a slow start, Argentina got the early lead with Aguero. Luckily, Iceland responded right away, and after four minutes Finnbogason equalized. Everyone stood up celebrating and chanting; it was an unforgettable moment. Those were the highlights of the first half.

The second half began with Argentina pressing up high and trying to get the lead again while Iceland was well organized and closed all the spaces in defense. Then, in the sixty-fourth minute, Argentina had a penalty awarded. The community center went quiet waiting for Messi to take the penalty. And then, Halldórsson saves the penalty, and everyone is again celebrating and chanting as if Iceland scored again. The last minutes of the game were nerve-wracking as we witnessed Iceland draw its first ever World Cup game.

After the game, we went to Oli’s house where his son, probably inspired and motivated by the brave performance of his country, invited us to play football in one of the nearby fields. Some of us accepted the invitation, and we decided to play Europe-USA (if you were wondering which of the teams won, Europe did, twice (: ). It was really fun playing football again, even though we quickly realized we were out of shape. Yet, we continued to play until it was time to get back to Skálanes.

All of us, except Andy who decided to run from Seyðisfjörður back to Skálanes, got rides in groups from Oli and Charlie. It is worth mentioning that it took Andy only one hour and twenty-four minutes to complete the run (17.4 km) and reach Skálanes before the last group did. Once we were back, we had a delicious meal cooked by Ahsan, Nick, and Sallie, and discussed the plan for tomorrow. After dinner, another group went camping while we continued working, spending time with each other, and resting.

To conclude, today was an unforgettable day for Iceland and me personally. Stay tuned for another update tomorrow, and as always Áfram Ísland.

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