Geology and Biology of Iceland

May 15-21, 2016


Iceland is of unique interest to geologists because it is situated at a divergent plate boundary between the North American Plate and the Eurasian Plate.  It is also situated above a hotspot, the Iceland Plume, which was directly responsible for the creation of the island.  Because of its tectonic setting, Iceland is volcanically very active. The magma activity has also led to the abundance of geothermal activity, including geysers, that has allowed for the production of clean, renewable electricity. Additionally, about 11% of Iceland is covered with glaciers and glacial ice caps that have impacted the geomorphology and meteorology of the island.  

Students traveling to Iceland will have the opportunity to witness and experience the amazing and unique environment and see a world unlike the arid high desert of northwest New Mexico.  The group will observe how the native and imported plants and animals of Iceland have adapted to survive in such an extreme environment.  Students should be able to see the effects of environmental pressure, founder effect, and bottleneck on the adaptations these organisms display as well as how human interventions also affect these evolutionary processes in Iceland.


May 15-21, 2016


BIOL 299/298 Special Topics: Biology of Iceland (3 credits)


GEOL 299/298 Special Topics: Geology of Iceland (3 credits)

To see how the course(s) will count toward a degree at SJC, check out the Academic Advising Sheet.


Program fee (paid to Explorica) covers:

  • Housing
  • Airfare
  • Entrance fees to sites
  • Ground transporation
  • Meals

Participants will be required to pay for the following additional travel costs that are not included in the program fee:

  • Transportation to and from airport
  • International Medical and Travel Insurance


Other expenses:
  • Tuition and related fees for at least one 3-credit course (required for all participants)
  • Passport application fee (for those participants who need to apply for a U.S. passport) - For information on getting a passport, please visit  
  • Immunizations/Medications (if applicable)
  • Souvenirs, phone calls, and other incidental expenses abroad

 *This is an estimate based on a minimum of 10 students and may vary based upon the number of participants.  


All participants must be over 18 years old at time of travel and must be San Juan College students in order to apply for the travel study program. All participants must register as students for the course(s) attached to the program and pay tuition, whether taking the course for credit or auditing. If you are not already an SJC student, it's easy (and FREE) to become one. Visit the Enrollment Services Home Page for more information.




Application materials will be available online at under the "Student Resources" tab. 

The application deadline is TBD. 


If you already have scholarships or other forms of financial aid through SJC for the spring/summer 2016 semesters, your financial aid should apply as usual for your tuition and fees. You may need to meet with your Financial Aid advisor to adjust the schedule for your disbursement of funds.

If you are a degree-seeking, financial aid eligible student at SJC during summer 2016, you may be eligible to apply for scholarship funds through the San Juan College Foundation. Contact the Office of Global Studies for more information.




Faculty leaders for this trip will be Dr. John Burris and Lori Schiess. John Burris has a BA in Geology from Miami University, an MS in Geology from the University of Wyoming, and a Ph.D. in Geology from Michigan State University. He has been teaching at San Juan College for 9 years. John most recently co-led a trip to Costa Rica in the summer of 2014.


Day 1:  Depart for Iceland

Day 2:  Hallo Raykjavik - Meet tour director and check into hotel; Reykjavik Guided Walking Sightseeing Tour

Day 3:  Reykjavik - South Shore; Travel to Kirkjubaejarklaustur via Hverageroi & Dyrholaey; Hverageroi visit; Dyrholaey Nature Reserve visit; Kirkjubaejarklaustur 12th century Catholic convent

Day 4:  Icelandic Landscapes - Skaftafell National Park excursion; Vatnajokull Ice Cap; Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon

Day 5:  South Shore - Thorsmork Valley - Hike Across the Hellisheioi Volcanic Plateau; Seljalandsfoss Waterfall Walk; Thorsmork Glacial Nature Reserve

Day 6:  Thorsmork Valley -  Pingvellir National Park Guided visit; Great Geyser, Strokkur Hot Springs, Gullfoss Waterfall; Travel to Reykjavik

Day 7:  Morning bike ride to explore Reykjavik; Blue Lagoon visit; Flight home


For additional information, please contact:
John Burris –
Lori Schiess–