AAPG's First GeoTour to Iceland: Interview with Jason Jweda and Aimee Villarreal

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)

AAPG is hosting its first geotour to Iceland August 3-11. Led by geologists Jason Jweda and Aime Villarreal, the tour will explore many parts of the absolutely stunning Iceland. Participants will stay in Reykjavik, and travel to locations each day (click here for a map and itinerary). To register, please click here.

What are your names and your background?

My name is Jason Jweda and I am currently a Geologist │ Geochemist in the Gulf Coast Reservoir Characterization team at ConocoPhillips. I use organic and isotopic geochemistry to optimize the development of unconventional reservoirs. I was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan and attended Wayne State University earning a B.S. and M.S. in Geology/Geochemistry. For my Master’s Thesis I studied the fate and transport of sediments in the 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.

What were your main goals when you put together the Iceland Geotour?

Iceland should be on everyone's bucket list because it has a deep cultural heritage and otherworldly landscape that begs to be explored. While we cannot visit every major point of interest. This trip was to put together to provide an amazing experience for the participants, balancing the number of attractions with the amount of time that can be spent at any one of those special places. The primary goal in designing this trip was for people to gain a great appreciation of the rich and wonderful Icelandic world.

Please describe the places the participants will experience and why those locations are so special?

Every day of the Geotour has been planned to allow participants of this Geotour the opportunity to visit new and distinct areas of Iceland. We will start by exploring the Icelandic capital city of Reykjavik including the Viking and Icelandic National Museums that chronicle the country's amazing history. As the trip continues, we will move out further from the city to explore volcanic and glacial landscapes such as the Reykjanes Peninsula, Golden Circle, Snaefellsjokull, Langjokull, and the black sand beaches of Vik. Amazing landscapes and culture await.

What makes this trip such an exciting one for geologists?

Iceland offers some of Earth’s most pristine and exotic landscapes created by tectonic, volcanic, and glacial forces. Almost nowhere else on Earth can you experience all three with such amazing access. There will be several unforgettable geological experiences because Iceland is a geologist’s paradise. If you forced us to name our favorite places, those would be crossing between tectonic plates on the Reykjanes Peninsula, taking a glacial tour of Langjokull, visiting the Golden Circle which includes Gullfoss waterfall, and appreciating vast volcanic landscapes near Snaefellsjokull. We’re confident that every day will boast new and extreme geological experiences.

How might going on this trip add to a petroleum geologist's ability to find and develop reservoirs?

Iceland is geologically spectacular because the island is situated directly above an active spreading ridge and is simultaneously impacted by a mantle hotspot. While Iceland is not classically visited as a petroleum system analog, the structural and volcanic activity provide insights for petroleum exploration in rift basins and basement-hosted reservoirs.

What kinds of cultural experiences can the participants expect to have?

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 by staying every night in Reykjavik among its people and shops will provide the unforgettable opportunities to live and interact with the Icelandic culture. Some of the highlights will be relaxing in the world famous geothermal Blue Lagoon Spa, visiting the Tingvellir cultural site, and exploring Reykjavik and its heritage museums.

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