Posts Tagged ‘iceland’

Iceland Volcano Drilling Suggests Magma Could Become Source of High-Grade Energy

February 17, 2011

This is a view of the Krafla volcano, Iceland, across the explosion crater Viti that erupted in 1787, showing the drilling rig. The borehole encountered molten rock at 6,500 feet depth. (Credit: G.O. Fridleifsson.)

ScienceDaily (Feb. 16, 2011) Original article here

Geologists drilling an exploratory geothermal well in 2009 in the Krafla volcano in Iceland encountered a problem they were simply unprepared for: magma (molten rock or lava underground) which flowed unexpectedly into the well at 2.1 kilometers (6,900 ft) depth, forcing the researchers to terminate the drilling.

“To the best of our knowledge, only one previous instance of magma flowing into a geothermal well while drilling has been documented,” said Wilfred Elders, a professor emeritus of geology in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of California, Riverside, who led the research team. “We were drilling a well that was designed to search for very deep — 4.5 kilometers (15,000 feet) — geothermal resources in the volcano. While the magma flow interrupted our project, it gave us a unique opportunity to study the magma and test a very hot geothermal system as an energy source.”

Currently, a third of the electric power and 95 percent of home heating in Iceland is produced from steam and hot water that occurs naturally in volcanic rocks.

“The economics of generating electric power from such geothermal steam improves the higher its temperature and pressure,” Elders explained. “As you drill deeper into a hot zone the temperature and pressure rise, so it should be possible to reach an environment where a denser fluid with very high heat content, but also with unusually low viscosity occurs, so-called ‘supercritical water.’ Although such supercritical water is used in large coal-fired electric power plants, no one had tried to use supercritical water that should occur naturally in the deeper zones of geothermal areas.”

Elders and colleagues report in the March issue of Geology (the research paper was published online on Feb. 3) that although the Krafla volcano, like all other volcanoes in Iceland, is basaltic (a volcanic rock containing 45-50 percent silica), the magma they encountered is a rhyolite (a volcanic rock containing 65-70 percent silica).

“Our analyses show that this magma formed by partial melting of certain basalts within the Krafla volcano,” Elders said. “The occurrence of minor amounts of rhyolite in some basalt volcanoes has always been something of a puzzle. It had been inferred that some unknown process in the source area of magmas, in the mantle deep below the crust of the Earth, allows some silica-rich rhyolite melt to form in addition to the dominant silica-poor basalt magma.”

Elders explained that in geothermal systems water reacts with and alters the composition of the rocks, a process termed “hydrothermal alteration.” “Our research shows that the rhyolite formed when a mantle-derived basaltic magma encountered hydrothermally altered basalt, and partially melted and assimilated that rock,” he said.

Elders and his team studied the well within the Krafla caldera as part of the Iceland Deep Drilling Project, an industry-government consortium, to test whether geothermal fluids at supercritical pressures and temperatures could be exploited as sources of power. Elders’s research team received support of $3.5 million from the National Science Foundation and $1.5 million from the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program.

In the spring of 2009 Elders and his colleagues progressed normally with drilling the well to 2 kilometers (6,600 feet) depth. In the next 100 meters (330 feet), however, multiple acute drilling problems occurred. In June 2009, the drillers determined that at 2104 meters (6,900 feet) depth, the rate of penetration suddenly increased and the torque on the drilling assembly increased, halting its rotation. When the drill string was pulled up more than 10 meters (33 feet) and lowered again, the drill bit became stuck at 2095 meters (6,875 feet). An intrusion of magma had filled the lowest 9 meters (30 feet) of the open borehole. The team terminated the drilling and completed the hole as a production well.

“When the well was tested, high pressure dry steam flowed to the surface with a temperature of 400 Celsius or 750 Fahrenheit, coming from a depth shallower than the magma,” Elders said. “We estimated that this steam could generate 25 megawatts of electricity if passed through a suitable turbine, which is enough electricity to power 25,000 to 30,000 homes. What makes this well an attractive source of energy is that typical high-temperature geothermal wells produce only 5 to 8 megawatts of electricity from 300 Celsius or 570 Fahrenheit wet steam.”

Elders believes it should be possible to find reasonably shallow bodies of magma, elsewhere in Iceland and the world, wherever young volcanic rocks occur.

“In the future these could become attractive sources of high-grade energy,” said Elders, who got involved in the project in 2000 when a group of Icelandic engineers and scientists invited him to join them to explore concepts of developing geothermal energy.

The Iceland Deep Drilling Project has not abandoned the search for supercritical geothermal resources. The project plans to drill a second deep hole in southwest Iceland in 2013.

Elders was joined in the research project by researchers at HS Orka hf (HS Power Co.), Iceland; UC Davis; Stanford University; Iceland GeoSurvey; Landsvirkjun Power, Iceland; the U.S. Geological Survey; New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology; and the University of Oregon, Eugene.

Municipality in Iceland’s West Fjords Wants Reindeer

November 28, 2010

Icelandic reindeer. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.

(Iceland Review News, 24 November 2010) — The minority in the district council of the Vesturbyggd municipality in the southwestern West Fjords want to apply for a permit from the Environment Agency of Iceland to establish an up to 4,000-animal wild reindeer stock in the West Fjords. Currently, there are only reindeer in east Iceland. According to the proposal, reindeer are to be transported from the east and with time, form a large reindeer stock which could roam the area and serve as a source of income for the municipality, reports. Proposals to that end have been rejected before due to fear of impact on farming in the region and  possible diseases being transmitted to sheep. However, the minority in Vesturbyggd’s district council reasons there is no risk in relocating reindeer to the west as there are no examples of reindeer having infected sheep in east Iceland. Also, the number of sheep in the West Fjords has dropped significantly in the recent decades. The proposal is awaiting review.

Original article here

Iceland Could Have Become German Colony in 1864

August 29, 2010

There is a statue of Christian IX outside the Government Offices of Iceland. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.

(Iceland Review, 20 August 2010) — According to secret documents which Queen Margrethe II of Denmark recently gave the author Tom Buk-Swientys access to, King Christian IX of Denmark offered King Wilhelm I of Prussia to make Denmark part of the German Confederation in 1864. If he had accepted the offer, Iceland would have become a German colony. The Danish King’s offer — which apparently did not sound appealing to the King of Prussia — is considered a desperate attempt to prevent the Danish Kingdom from losing Schleswig and Holstein to Germany after a defeat in 1864, reports. According to Danish newspaper Politiken, King Christian IX did not consult his government before making the offer to the Prussian King and so it borders on treason. The King’s arguments were that although Denmark would lose its sovereignty by becoming part of the German Confederation, Schleswig, where he grew up, and Holstein would still be considered part of the Danish Kingdom. It has earlier been revealed that Denmark was prepared to trade Iceland for Schleswig in agreements with Prussia and Austria in the summer and autumn of 1864. Christian IX was the King of Denmark and Iceland from 1863 to 1906. During his reign Iceland received its constitution in 1874 and home rule in 1904. There is a statue of King Christian IX giving Iceland its constitution in front of the Government Offices on Laekjargata.

Via Circumpolar Musings
Original article here

Angelica used for beer production in north Iceland

August 29, 2010

Angelica. Photo by Eygló Svala Arnarsdóttir.

(Iceland Review, 23 August 2010) —  The microbrewery Bruggsmidjan at Árskógssandur in Eyjafjördur in north Iceland known for its popular beer Kaldi will now, in cooperation with Saga Medica, launch a new brand, Stinningskaldi, brewed from angelica which grows on Hrísey island. Saga Medica produces remedies from Icelandic medical herbs. “We have always been interested in brewing from Icelandic plants. When the idea surfaced that we could use angelica from Hrísey we found it ideal,” Agnes Sigurdardóttir, managing director of Bruggsmidjan, told Morgunbladid. “We chose angelica because it is one of Iceland’s best known medical plants. It has been used for healing in Iceland since the settlement, or for 1100 years. Angelica is considered good for all sorts of ailments,” Sigurdardóttir said. “When the Vikings started going on trade expeditions to Europe they brought dried angelica root for trading. The angelica which grew here was considered superior to that which grew further south. It is so resilient. It became currency, in fact,” Sigurdardóttir said. “There were many things I didn’t know about angelica until we began cooperating with Saga Medica. For example, Hvannadalshnjúkur, Iceland’s highest peak, is named after angelica,” Sigurdardóttir said. Angelica is called hvönn, hvannir in plural, in Icelandic. Sigurdardóttir said through time angelica has also been used as an aphrodisiac for men. “We chose the name Stinningskaldi because it is related to meteorology but angelica is very good for men too. So we saved the name Stinningskaldi for this.” In meteorology, stinningskaldi is a strong breeze but stinning can also mean erection. “I’m not about to brew some love potion, that’s not it, but angelica is good for men,” Sigurdardóttir iterated. She hopes that the new product can enter the market in October.

Via Circumpolar Musings
Original article here

EU, Russia, Norway and Iceland embark on closer cultural partnership

May 24, 2010

(Nordic Council News, 18 May 2010) — The EU member states, Russia, Norway and Iceland are to work more closely together on cultural issues after the joint International Forum for the establishment of new tools for cultural co-operation in Northern Europe. High-level officials from the countries will sign a Memorandum of Understanding in Saint Petersburg, 20-21 May. The Forum in St. Petersburg brings together individuals involved in the cultural sphere, creative enterprises, cultural institutions and officials from 11 countries to look at ways of boosting the creative economy in the area covered by the Northern Dimension. All of the European countries are currently discussing how to adopt these concepts and develop the potential for a creative economy, a growth sector capable of creating jobs and prosperity but which lacks funding and investment tools. The Northern Dimension Partnership on Culture (NDPC) is a new initiative for Northern Europe scheduled to be up and running in 2011. Its main objective is to facilitate access to funding for long-term projects and for enterprises capable of generating jobs and becoming self-sustainable. The NDPC will complement existing national and international organisations and institutions working on cultural co-operation and exchange, providing an extra platform to facilitate and promote dialogue and the exchange of best practices in the cultural sphere.

Increased Seismic Activity Near South Iceland Volcano

March 12, 2010


After decreasing seismic trends in the past days, earthquakes are growing in strength and number in the area around Eyjafjallajökull glacier, which covers an active volcano, in south Iceland.

Eyjafjallajökull and the farm Thorvaldseyri. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.

This morning between 6:40 am and 7:30 am 40 to 50 earthquakes were measured, the strongest of which rated higher than two points on the Richter scale, reports.

At 8:12 pm an earthquake hit measuring 2.4 on the Richter scale. Its epicenter is at a depth of seven to 12 kilometers, northeast from the summit crater.

According to the Icelandic Metrological Office the seismic activity around Eyjafjallajökull seems to be returning to earlier trends.

On Friday a volcanic eruption watch group assembled to prepare for a potential eruption in Eyjafjallajökull. Since then the tremors subsided but now they seem to be picking up speed again. The volcano last erupted in the mid-19th century.

Polar bear shot in Iceland

January 29, 2010

A polar bear was spotted today in Thistilfjordur, northeast Iceland by a farm worker who was stood less than 100 metres from the bear when she noticed.
Police took the decision to shoot the bear, as conditions need to be right to affect a rescue – chief among them the stipulation that people not be endangered.

The bear’s arrival in Iceland is highly unusual. Two polar bears were shot and killed in Iceland in the summer of 2008 and no others had been spotted for around 20 years before.

The three reasons stated for the decision to shoot the bear were: human safety, the abundance of polar bears in eastern Greenland (where the bear was almost certainly from) and the huge costs involved in capturing it alive and returning it home.