Nordic Network of Astrobiology
Sweden Denmark Finland Norway Iceland Estonia Lithuania USA

Supported by:

Nordforsk

Nordic Network of Astrobiology

Towards a Nordic Research and Training Area in Astrobiology

Participating institutions:

Astrobiology at the University of Iceland

Team Members

Research

Various natural phenomena in Iceland are relevant for astrobiological research. Studies of thermophiles in different types of hot springs have been carried out for decades and the new island of Surtsey that was formed in a submarine volcanic eruption 1963-1967, provided scientists with a unique opportunity to study how life colonises newly formed land. In recent years, increased attention has been given to subglacial lakes beneath the Vatnajökull ice cap, which have been shown to be habitats for microbial life. Studies are also on-going on the microbial diversity in pore spaces within new and weathered volcanic rocks in the country.

Research on various volcanic formations in Iceland has strong relevance for studies of past volcanism on Mars and large plains inundated during catastrophic floods early in the geological history of Mars have counterparts in Iceland. Mountain slopes in plateau basalts and hyaloclastite formations in Iceland display small canyons and gullies that are very similar in morphology to hillside gullies on Mars, which are likely formed by the action of running water.

The above phenomena are being actively studied by researchers at institutes in Iceland and their collaborators in several countries. Key institutes include:

University of Iceland