Category Archives: Geology

Seljalandsfoss

I know it’s been over a month since I came home from the the land of fire and ice, but here are a few more pictures from the wonderful land of Iceland.  In this case it of the waterfalls around the area of Seljalandsfoss.  This particularly wonderful foss is on the main round south-east before you get to Vik.  It drops about 60m from the volcanic cliffs above and has calved out a plunge pool and has a fantastic undercut rock shelter that allows visitors to walk behind the falls (though I would say to watch your step as the patch can be wet and slippery – and when the weather is as windy as it was on our trip the spray will soak you).

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DSCN2634DSCN2623DSCN2639About 500m along the cliffs to the northwest of Seljalandsfoss is the hidden waterfall Gljúfrafoss.  This is worth having a look at, though your feet will get wet as you have to walk along the stream to get into the cave.  With Gljúfrafoss you have a waterfall that has cut back into the cliffs and you have to do a bit of exploring to see this beautiful foss.

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Jökulsárlón

As promised, here is another post from my Iceland trip.  This time it’s of Jökulsárlón.  To be honest I don’t know why this place isn’t better known.  For me I think it’s one of the natural crown jewels of Europe, nevermind of Iceland.  Basically Jökulsárlón is a semi-tidal lagoon on the south-east coast of Iceland and formed in the 1930’s by the retreat of Breiðamerkurjökul.  Breiðamerkurjökul’s moraines formed the edge of the lagoon and there is a small tidal river connecting the lagoon to the sea.  But what for me makes this place so special are the icebergs.  Breiðamerkurjökul carves the icebergs which then float around in the lagoon, slowly melting.  Some of them do make it down the small river floating out to the sea, but also being pushed back by the tide and landing on the beach forming yet more amazing ice blocks on the black sand.  OK so that’s enough of me talking lets have some pictures.

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I think the one above looks a bit like a seal’s head.

DSCN3065The pictures really don’t do this place justice.  Maybe I just don’t get out enough but this is one of the most amazing places I’ve ever visited.  I probably will never get to go to Antarctica or the high Arctic, but this is pretty close.  This is one place that should be on a lot of peoples’ bucket lists and I’m glad to have ticked it off mine.

 

Iceland Trip

At the beginning of June I was fortunate enough to go on another trip outside of my home country, and this time to a place I have long wanted to visit, that geogeek’s paradise known as Iceland.  It has been a dream I’d wanted to fulfill for a few years now and it has finally gone ahead.  Over the next few days I’ll be writing more post about the trip.  I went there with 2 friends and spent a total of a week camping, walking, driving and (surprise, surprise) taking hundreds of pictures.  For a general overview we landed at Keflavik early in the morning (seriously why does it seem that airlines only do flights that require you to get up at 3am?).  We picked up our hire car, drove to Reykjavik to pick up some food and then spent the next few hours driving along the south coast to the campsite at Skaftafell, at the south end of Vatnajökull.  We spend 3 nights there, and then drove back to Reykjavik where we spent the last 4 nights of the week.

I can’t speak for the north of the country which we didn’t visit, but the south is a beautiful mix of old lava fields, post-glacial moraines and what can only be described as a peri-glacial cold desert.  This ‘desert’ covers large parts of the south coast where areas of black sand and rubble are common and people are not.  These have formed mostly as a mixture of lava flows, glacial deposition and jökulhlaups.

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DSCN2779It even comes with its own dust clouds when the wind is strong.

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This is just the first part of my write ups, so look forward to more about Vatnajökull, Skaftafell, Jökulsárlón amongst other places.

Berlin Natural History Museum

Last week I had the great fortune of a mini European road trip and being in Germany I took the opportunity of visiting the Berlin Museum Fur Naturkunde (Natural History Museum).  This particular museum has been on my bucket list for one big reason – Brachiosaurus.  She’s a beautiful beastie and like London’s Diplodocus (well until the recent announcement that they are replacing her with a Blue Whale), stands in the main entrance area of the museum.  It’s the first time I’ve seen a dinosaur this size and according to the information board she stands at 13.5m high, and is apparently the largest mounted dinosaur skeleton in the world.

DSCN1523I love the fact that they’ve put the Brachiosaurus, Diplodocus and Dicraeosaurus next to each other so you get a feel for the size difference.  You also have a Kentrosaurus in the central dinosaur display.

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Now I’ve been using the name Brachiosaurus for this specimen, but I am aware that she differs from the American type specimen and is now referred to as Giraffatitan everywhere except the information board next to the skeleton itself.  I found that rather amusing…I guess the matter is not settled afterall.  Along with the Sauropod centre display there is also an Allosaurus, an Elaphrosurus (shown below) and a Dysalotosaurus.

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Along with the dinosaurs you also have a wide range of fantastic fossils from the Solnhofen limestone formation, including fish, crustaceans, insects and pterosaurs.

DSCN1525There is a particularly fine specimen of a Rhamphorhynchus.  I really like the the preservation of the wings.

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The other star specimen of the museum is of course the Archaeopteryx fossil.

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Sorry it’s not that good a photo, my camera was playing up at the time.

So what is there besides the dinosaurs?  The museum also houses a large mineral collection that is considerably bigger than my own collection of rocks, a room for taxidermed specimens, rooms explaining the geological history of earth as well as the solar system, and what was my favourite room after the dinosaurs – the wet samples room, containing animal specimens in jars.  A little morbid I know, but what did you expect I’m into dead things (and please no necrophilia jokes they’re dead boring…sorry…thus ends the family friendly session of my ramblings).

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OK back to serious things.  How does it compare to London’s Natural History Museum?  Well it’s a lot smaller.  The London museum will take the best part of a day to get around, whilst you can see everything in the Berlin one in a couple of hours.  For me I felt that this was a bit of a two-edged sword.  On the one hand I was a little disappointed and wanted to see more of what they had, yet on the plus side it ment that the museum wasn’t too crowded (I went on the Saturday of a school holiday, if that had been London I’d have had to queue for hours), yet in Berlin I just walked in.  Another bonus to it being smaller is that what they do have on display is the really good stuff.  Not that I’m saying that London doesn’t have good samples, it just means that you know in Berlin you’re getting the very best that they have to show you…like a 13.5m tall Brachiosaurs/Giraffatitan.  Lets have another picture of her.

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So is it worth going to?  Oh yes.  For a guy who’s been into dinosaurs since he was 3 most definitely, nowhere else in Europe will you see a Brachiosaurus/Giraffatitan.  If you’re ever in Berlin I’d make a point to spend a coupke of hours of your trip in the museum.

I’m going to finish with one last photo of the star attraction.

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