The Field Site: Holuhraun Iceland

The 2014–2015 Holuhraun eruption was the largest effusive eruption to have occured within Iceland during the past 230 years. Erupting in a pristine region of the Central Highlands, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Centre, Holuhraun provides an exceptional analog for volcanic regions on Mars. RAVEN will develop exploration strategies for geologically young volcanic terrains on Mars, which have yet to be examined by landed missions, but offer exciting targets for future exploration.

The Holuhrun eruption emplaced lava into an existing river system, which generated ephemeral hydrothermal activity, as shown here in November 2014.

Lava–water interactions associated with the Holuhraun eruption also generated hydrothermal systems, which have important astrobiological implications. The image below is a perspective rendering the Holuhraun hot springs observed approximately six months after the end of the eruption. The image reconstructed using UAS image data and multi-view stereo-photogrammetry.

Hot springs emerging from the distal end of the Holuhraun lava flow field in September 2015, imaged using a UAS quadcopter and showing green streams inhabited by microbial life, just six months after the end of the eeruption.