Interview with Jason Jweda and Aimee Villarreal: AAPG 2019 Iceland GeoTour

Published
American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)

Iceland is more important than ever for geoscientists as we transition to new and hybrid sources of energy. The geothermal resources of Iceland have long been a model for the world, and the technologies are very applicable to the U.S. wherever the geothermal gradient is high and/or there is magma near the surface (California, Yellowstone Caldera, Hawaii, and more). Iceland is also important as a place to analyze the geochemical and diagenetic processes associated with hydrothermal processes. For the first time, AAPG is offering a GeoTour to Iceland. Welcome to an interview with Jason Jweda and Aimee Villarreal, who have organized the tour of Iceland, slated for summer 2019. Please contact AAPG to express your interest.

Jason Jweda & Aimee Villarreal
Who are we?
Jason Jweda
Jason Jweda

My name is Jason Jweda and I am a Geologist │ Geochemist at ConocoPhillips. I was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan and attended Wayne State University for B.S. and M.S. in Geology/Geochemistry. For my Master’s Thesis I studied fate and transport of sediments in Great Lakes region using radiochemistry and environmental geochemistry. I moved to New York City to obtain my M.Phil. and Ph.D. from the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University. For my Dissertation I studied mantle and volcanic processes in subduction zones using isotope and solid earth geochemistry. Currently, I use C-isotopes and organic geochemistry to optimize the development of unconventional reservoirs. Traveling is a favorite hobby and returning to Iceland will be fantastic experience.

Aimee Villarreal
Aimee Villarreal

Hello, I am Aimee Villarreal and am a Senior Geologist at ConocoPhillips. I grew up in eastern Colorado and earned a B.A. in Environmental Geology from the University of Colorado at Boulder. I then went on to earn a M.S. in Geology (Fluvial Geomorphology) from the University of Arkansas. After graduate school I worked downstream oil and gas looking at corrosion susceptibility of pipelines but ultimately decided I wanted to work upstream. Therefore, I earned another M.S. in Geology from the University of Kansas where I studied caprock integrity and reservoir compartmentalization of several oil bearing units in Kansas being considered for CO2 sequestration and EOR. I currently work on reservoir characterization of unconventional oil and gas reservoirs. I love to travel and have been fortunate to travel to many amazing places around the world including Iceland. Iceland is hands down my favorite place that I have been and I can’t wait to go back with all of you!

Describe the trip to Iceland that we have developed?

We have planned an incredible 6-day adventure to Iceland in the summer of 2019 that is a perfect blend of culture and geology that should appeal to anyone who enjoys traveling. We will start our journey on the Reykjanes Peninsula where we will explore the effects of modern tectonic rifting and take the afternoon to enjoy the world famous Blue Lagoon Spa. Next, we will tour Reykjavik which serves as the cultural and political capital of Iceland. On subsequent days, we will visit the Golden Circle and modern volcanic activity around Hekla and Eyjafjallajökull. At the mid-point of the trip there will be an exciting excursion to the Westmann Islands to see a modern day Santorini and to catch a glimpse of the rare and adorable Puffin birds. The final days of our trip will be spent hiking a glacier, boating across a breathtaking iceberg lagoon, and appreciating the glacial forces at work in southern Iceland.

Who is this trip intended for?

This trip is literally for anyone who enjoys traveling and visiting a cultural and geological hotspot. Participants do not need to speak Icelandic, nor do they need to have any prior knowledge of Iceland or even geology. We have planned the trip to accommodate a variety of physical fitness levels, but those who can do a little light hiking will get the most out of the experiences. If there is even a downside to this trip, it is that we have a few hours of travel each day to get between attractions. There is so much to do and see in Iceland that we think everyone will thoroughly enjoy this trip.

What were some of the goals in developing the trip?

The primary goal in designing this trip was to put together an amazing experience for everyone that participates. We tried our best to balance the number of attractions that we can visit with the amount of time that can be spent at any one of those special places. We want people to have great time and come away with appreciation of Iceland.

What are some of the highlights?

Some of the highlights will be relaxing in the world famous geothermal Blue Lagoon Spa, visiting the Golden Circle which includes Gullfoss waterfall and Tingvellir cultural site, exploring Reykjavik and its heritage museums, taking a guided hiking tour of an actual glacier, traveling to the Westmann Islands and seeing the Puffins, boating across a glacial lagoon, appreciating vast volcanic landscapes, and sinking toes into the black sand beaches of Vik.

What will be some of the most memorable geological experiences?

There will be several memorable geological experiences because Iceland is a geologist’s paradise with mountains, glaciers, and volcanoes around just about every turn. If you forced us to name our favorite ones, those would be the crossing between tectonic plates, the glacial hike at Skaftafell and the excursion to the Westmann Islands. We’re confident that every day will boast extremely memorable geological experiences.

What will people see in nature that they will not see anywhere else?

Iceland offers some of Earth’s most pristine and exotic landscapes created by tectonic, volcanic, and glacial forces. Almost no where else on Earth can you experience all three with such amazing access. Furthermore, we might catch a glimpse of Puffins and possibly even whales while along the southern coast of Iceland.

What are some of the most spectacular cultural experiences?

Iceland was settled by Viking explorers in the late ninth century and then by Norwegians in the early tenth century. We will visit the Viking and Icelandic National Museums that chronicle this amazing history. Perhaps the most stunning cultural experience will be exploring Thingvellir where one of the world’s oldest parliaments convened for almost 900 years. We also believe that spending a day in Reykjavik among its people and shops will be extemely memorable.

How did you decide on accommodations?

Iceland is a relatively small country about the size of Kansas with only a population of ~300,000 people. While there are numerous B&B’s scattered across the countryside, there are few large facilities that can accommodate large tour groups. In order to keep the group together and provide reasonably nice arrangements, we choose 3-4 star hotels near the main cities and attractions.

How much will the trip cost?

The trip will cost 5,500 USD per person and will include all travel, food, attractions and accommodations within Iceland. The cost does not include airfare to and from Iceland. We have tried to keep the costs as low as possible while balancing reasonable accommodations for a large group.

Can people express interest now? How?

Yes. People can contact Jason () or Aimee () to express their interest in the trip or ask additional questions.

AAPG 2019 Iceland GeoTour Travel Brochure - PDF Download
Detailed Informational Brochure with Itinerary - PDF Download

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