Icelandic drilling project will explain how islands are formed

Icelandic drilling project will explain how islands are formed

A new project, SUSTAIN, in Iceland is all set to uncover the mysteries behind the formation of islands. Early next month, the team will drill two holes into the heart of Surtsey, a volcanic island, to analyze the interaction of volcanic rock, seawater, and subterranean microbes.

Surtsey, the world’s youngest island, was formed by volcanic eruptions between 1963 and 1967. It is also among the most reported and dissected geological events. Although most of the data and samples are focused on understanding the nature of volcanic activity where water and magma collide, other projects will also benefit from them.   

The project is headed by Magnús Tumi Guðmundsson, Professor of Geophysics, University of Iceland, along with Associate Professor Marie Jackson, University of Utah; a group of international scientists will also contribute significantly to the project. The team will use two drill cores, a 200-meter vertical core and a core from a 300-meter angled hole. The idea is to investigate the inner build and evolution of geothermal heat on the island. The project also seeks to study the microorganisms as well as flora and fauna on Surtsey and the role they play in its evolution. Multiple strange organisms have also settled down in the rocks that form the island. It would be an interesting study from a geological and evolutionary perspective, to study all life forms on the island.

Surtsey is like a natural lab for researchers to study the evolution of newborn islands. According to Magnús Tumi Guðmundsson, the tiny island has a special place in science because scientists have been able to track the evolution of the island from the time it was formed.

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