Tag: Iceland (page 1 of 3)

Archaeologists Believe they have Found the Ruins of a Legendary Monastery



Excerpt from icelandreview.com

It is believed the remains of the much-searched-for Þykkvabær cloister may have been found. Icelandic and British archaeologists saw the remains of a very large building yesterday, using ultrasound techniques, at Álftaver in South Iceland.

The discovery came as a complete surprise, as it was not thought the remains of the cloister were in that area.

“I think we’ve just hit the jackpot, because I think we’ve discovered the remains of Þykkvabæjarklaustur. It came as a complete surprise, you can say that much. The remains are not on the site it was assumed the cloisters stood,” archaeology professor Steinunn Kristjánsdóttir told Stöð 2 television.

Þykkvabæjarklaustur, east of Mýrdalur, was a monastery of Augustine monks and its location has been lost to archaeologists until now. This week, ten Icelandic and British archaeologists have been searching for the remains with high tech instruments. The remains of an unusually big building were discovered under the ground yesterday, measuring around 40 x 45 meters.

“It is very big compared to the buildings of the time – as it is from the Middle Ages – and the footprint is around 1,500 square meters,” Steinunn says.

The cloister was in use from 1168 until 1550. Until recently it was assumed that Þykkvabæjarklaustur must have stood near the present-day Þykkvabæjarkirkja church, but searches revealed nothing; and this leads Steinunn to strongly believe yesterday’s find to be the lost cloisters. It is still possible, however, the remains are of a cow shed—but in that case it would be the cloister’s own cow shed and still therefore relevant.

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See Saturn moon’s ‘soda ocean’ shooting to surface in sheets

 Excerpt from  cnet.comEnceladus may have a warm ocean beneath its icy surface, but it may also be shooting through that crust in big sheets, perhaps filled with sea monkeys.       We already know that Saturn's ...

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Will new ruling finally free Lolita after 40 years in captivity at Miami Seaquarium?



Excerpt from seattletimes.com

A decision to list the captive orca Lolita for federal protection is expected to set the stage for a lawsuit from advocates seeking the whale’s release.

Seattle Times staff reporter



A Puget Sound orca held for decades at Miami’s Seaquarium will gain the protection of the federal Endangered Species Act, a move expected to set the stage for a lawsuit from advocates seeking the whale’s release.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced Wednesday the decision to list Lolita as part of the southern resident killer whales of Puget Sound, which already are considered endangered under the federal act. 

Whale activists, who petitioned for this status, have long campaigned for Lolita’s return to Puget Sound. They hope the listing will provide a stronger legal case to release Lolita than did a previous lawsuit that centered on alleged violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act.

“This gives leverage under a much stronger law,” said Howard Garrett of the Whidbey Island based Orca Network, which hopes a San Juan Island cove will one day serve as the site for Lolita to re-enter the wild.

NOAA Fisheries officials on Wednesday described their decision in narrow terms, which set no broader precedents. It does not address whether Lolita should be released from the Seaquarium.
“This is a listing decision,” said Will Stelle, the NOAA Fisheries regional administrator for the West Coast. “It is not a decision to free Lolita.” 

Aquarium officials have repeatedly said they have no intention of releasing the orca. 

“Lolita has been part of the Miami Seaquarium family for 44 years,” said Andrew Hertz, Seaquarium general manager, in a statement. 

“Lolita is healthy and thriving in her home where she shares habitat with Pacific white-sided dolphins. There is no scientific evidence that ... Lolita could survive in a sea pen or the open waters of the Pacific Northwest, and we are not willing to treat her life as an experiment.”

Orcas, also known as killer whales, are found in many of the world’s oceans. The southern resident population, which spends several months each year in Puget Sound, is the only group listed in the U.S. under the Endangered Species. 

The three pods in the population were reduced by captures by marine parks between 1965 and 1975, NOAA says. Among them was a roundup in Penn Cove where seven whales were captured, including Lolita. 

The southern resident pods now number fewer than 80. Possible causes for the decline are reduced prey, pollutants that could cause reproductive problems and oil spills, according to NOAA Fisheries.
Under the Endangered Species Act, it is illegal to cause a “take” of a protected orca, which includes harming or harassing them.
Wednesday, NOAA officials said holding an animal captive, in and of itself, does not constitute a take. 

Orca activists are expected to argue in their lawsuit that Lolita's cramped conditions result in a prohibited take.

There is “rising public scorn for the whole idea of performing orcas,” said Garrett, who hopes Seaquarium will decide to release Lolita without a court order. 

But NOAA officials still have concerns about releasing captive whales, and any plan to move or release Lolita would require “rigorous scientific review,” the agency said in a statement.
The concerns include the possibility of disease transmission, the ability of a newly released orca to find food and behavior patterns from captivity that could impact wild whales.

NOAA said previous attempts to release captive orcas and dolphins have often been unsuccessful and some have ended in death.

Garrett said the plan for Lolita calls for her to be taken to a netted area of the cove, which could be enlarged later. She would be accompanied by familiar trainers who could “trust and reassure her every bit of the way,” he said. 

The controversy over releasing captive whales has been heightened by the experience of Keiko, a captive orca that starred in the 1993 movie “Free Willy,” about a boy who pushed for the release of a whale.

In 1998, Keiko was brought back to his native waters off Iceland to reintroduce him to life in the wild. That effort ended in 2003 when he died in a Norwegian fjord. 

Garrett, who visited Keiko in Iceland in 1999, said he was impressed by the reintroduction effort, and that there was plenty of evidence that Keiko was able to catch fish on his own.

“The naysayers predicted that as soon as he got into the (Icelandic) waters he would die, and wild orcas would kill him,” Garrett said. “He proved that 180-degrees wrong. He loved it.”

Mark Simmons, who for two years served as director of animal husbandry for the Keiko-release effort, has a different view. He says Keiko never was able to forage for fish on his own, and that he continued to seek out human contact at every opportunity. 

Simmons wrote a book called “Killing Keiko,” that accuses the release effort of leading to a long slow death for the orca, which he says lacked food and then succumbed to an infection.

“It’s not really the fact that Keiko died, but how he died,” Garrett said Wednesday.

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Did viking men bring their wives along? Viking men may have brought their wives with them to colonize new lands, a new DNA study suggests




Excerpt from 
csmonitor.com

Vikings may have been family men who traveled with their wives to new lands, according to a new study of ancient Viking DNA.
Maternal DNA from ancient Norsemen closely matches that of modern-day people in the North Atlantic isles, particularly from the Orkney and Shetland Islands.

The findings suggest that both Viking men and women sailed on the ships to colonize new lands. The new study also challenges the popular conception of Vikings as glorified hoodlums with impressive seafaring skills. 

"It overthrows this 19th century idea that the Vikings were just raiders and pillagers," said study co-author Erika Hagelberg, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Oslo in Norway. "They established settlements and grew crops, and trade was very, very important."

Vikings hold a special place in folklore as manly warriors who terrorized the coasts of France, England and Germany for three centuries. But the Vikings were much more than pirates and pillagers. They established far-flung trade routes, reached the shores of present-day America, settled in new lands and even founded the modern city of Dublin, which was called Dyfflin by the Vikings.

Some earlier genetic studies have suggested that Viking males traveled alone and then brought local women along when they settled in a new location. For instance, a 2001 study published in the American Journal of Human Genetics suggested that Norse men brought Gaelic women over when they colonized Iceland.

Modern roots

To learn more about Norse colonization patterns, Hagelberg and her colleagues extracted teeth and shaved off small wedges of long bones from 45 Norse skeletons that were dated to between A.D. 796 and A.D. 1066. The skeletons were first unearthed in various locations around Norway and are now housed in the Schreiner Collection at the University of Oslo.

The team looked at DNA carried in the mitochondria, the energy powerhouses of the cell. Because mitochondria are housed in the cytoplasm of a woman's egg, they are passed on from a woman to her children and can therefore reveal maternal lineage. The team compared that material with mitochondrial DNA from 5,191 people from across Europe, as well as with previously analyzed samples from 68 ancient Icelanders.

The ancient Norse and Icelandic genetic material closely matched the maternal DNA in modern North Atlantic people, such as Swedes, Scots and the English. But the ancient Norse seemed most closely related to people from Orkney and Shetland Islands, Scottish isles that are quite close to Scandinavia.

Mixed group

"It looks like women were a more significant part of the colonization process compared to what was believed earlier," said Jan Bill, an archaeologist and the curator of the Viking burial ship collection at the Museum of Cultural History, a part of the University of Oslo. 

That lines up with historical documents, which suggest that Norse men, women and children — but also Scottish, British and Irish families — colonized far-flung islands such as Iceland, Bill told Live Science. Bill was not involved with the new study.

"This picture that we have of Viking raiding — a band of long ships plundering — there obviously would not be families on that kind of ship," Bill said. "But when these raiding activities started to become a more permanent thing, then at some point you may actually see families are traveling along and staying in the camps."
As a follow-up, the team would like to compare ancient Norse DNA to ancient DNA from Britain, Scotland and the North Atlantic Isles, to get a better look at exactly how all these people are related, Hagelberg said.

The findings were published today (Dec. 7) in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.

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Highway In Iceland May Be Sidetracked By Elves




npr.org

Here's a sentence we didn't expect to read today:
"Elf advocates have joined forces with environmentalists to urge the Icelandic Road and Coastal Commission and local authorities to abandon a highway project building a direct route from the Alftanes peninsula, where the president has a home, to the Reykjavik suburb of Gardabaer."
According to The Associated Press, "they fear disturbing elf habitat and claim the area is particularly important because it contains an elf church."
As All Things Considered reported back in 2007, elves are a big part of Icelandic culture. They reportedly make their homes in crags and rocks. We're not necessarily talking little guys like Hermey from that TV classic Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Some of the 13 types of elves in Iceland are "as tall as humans," Slate says. They also aren't likely to be as glamorous as Arwen, from Lord of the Rings. According to Slate, Iceland's elves are said to "often dress in old-timey, 19th-century outfits like homemade-looking ankle-length skirts."
Terry Gunnell, a folklorist at the University of Iceland, told the show that elves help Icelanders make sense of nature.
"Icelanders' houses can be knocked down by a force they can't see in the form of an earthquake," he said. "You look up at the sky, you've got the Northern Lights there. The wind can knock you off your feet. The wind can take shapes in the snow. So things can manifest themselves."
In 2006 and 2007, Gunnell directed a survey of 1,000 Icelanders.

According to Iceland Review:
"Only 13 percent of participants in the study said it is impossible that elves exist, 19 percent found it unlikely, 37 percent said elves possibly exist, 17 percent found their existence likely and eight percent definite. Five percent did not have an opinion on the existence of elves."
Those who believe they've encountered elves take things very seriously. Last year, The Reykjavik Grapevine reported that:
"Member of Parliament Árni Johnsen recently arranged for the transportation of a 50 tonne boulder from the Hellisheiði mountain pass to his backyard in Vestmannaeyjar — a more ideal environment Árni says, for the family of elves who inhabit it. Yes, a set of grandparents, a couple of parents and three children, who stand no more than 80 centimetres tall, have reportedly joined the 4,000 people who live on the small island off the south coast of Iceland.
"Árni says he became acquainted with these particular elves after a high-speed crash in 2010, wherein his car torpedoed 40 metres off the highway, destroying the vehicle, but leaving him unscathed. '[The elves] told me that they wanted to be in the grass,' Árni says. 'Now they have windows looking toward the sea and the island, and some sheep as neighbours. Everything is under control.' "
So it's probably not too surprising that concern over the possible effect on "Huldufolk" (hidden folk) is one of the issues raised in a legal challenge to the proposed highway. According to the AP:
"The project has been halted until the Supreme Court of Iceland rules on a case brought by a group known as Friends of Lava, who cite both the environmental and the cultural impact — including the impact on elves — of the road project."
Ragnhildur Jonsdottir, a self-proclaimed seer who says she can communicate with the elves, tells the AP it would be a "terrible loss and damaging both for the elf world and for us humans" if the road is built.
Another seer, though, thinks it's possible that the elves could be talked into moving their church out of the road's way. But Erla Stefánsdóttir also tells Iceland's Visir newssite that "they love this place." The local elves, trolls and fairies, she says, need to be consulted.
Another option might be to just wait. The AP says the elf issue is brought up so often that "the road and coastal administration has come up with a stock media response for elf inquiries, which states that 'issues have been settled by delaying the construction project at a certain point while the elves living there have supposedly moved on.' "

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Can other worlds possess more natural beauty? Aurora over a Glacier Lagoon


Aurora over a Glacier Lagoon byJames Woodend (UK)*A vivid green overhead aurora pictured in Iceland's Vatnajškull National Park reflected almost symmetrically in Jökulsárlón  Glacier lagoon. A complete lack of wind and current combine in this sheltered lagoon scene to create an arresting mirror effect, giving the image a sensation of utter stillness. Despite this, there is motion on a surprising scale, as the loops and arcs of the aurora are shaped by the shifting forces of the EarthÕs magnetic field.*Overall winner Photo: Contributed Photo / Connecticut Post Contributed
Photo by James Woodend

sfgate.com

A vivid green overhead aurora pictured in Iceland's Vatnajškull National Park reflected almost symmetrically in Jökulsárlón  Glacier lagoon. A complete lack of wind and current combine in this sheltered lagoon scene to create an arresting mirror effect, giving the image a sensation of utter stillness. Despite this, there is motion on a surprising scale, as the loops and arcs of the aurora are shaped by the shifting forces of the EarthÕs magnetic field.

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Early Earth less hellish than previously thought


https://i2.wp.com/news.vanderbilt.edu/files/Dixoncoolearlyearthweb.jpg?resize=640%2C327
Artist's illustration of what a cool early Earth looked like. (Artwork by Don Dixon, cosmographica.com)

vanderbilt.edu

Conditions on Earth for the first 500 million years after it formed may have been surprisingly similar to the present day, complete with oceans, continents and active crustal plates.

This alternate view of Earth’s first geologic eon, called the Hadean, has gained substantial new support from the first detailed comparison of zircon crystals that formed more than 4 billion years ago with those formed contemporaneously in Iceland, which has been proposed as a possible geological analog for early Earth.

Calvin Miller standing on a hilly landscape
Professor Calvin Miller (Vanderbilt University)

The study was conducted by a team of geologists directed by Calvin Miller, the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Vanderbilt University, and published online this weekend by the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters in a paper titled, “Iceland is not a magmatic analog for the Hadean: Evidence from the zircon record.”

From the early 20th century up through the 1980’s, geologists generally agreed that conditions during the Hadean period were utterly hostile to life. Inability to find rock formations from the period led them to conclude that early Earth was hellishly hot, either entirely molten or subject to such intense asteroid bombardment that any rocks that formed were rapidly remelted. As a result, they pictured the surface of the Earth as covered by a giant “magma ocean.”

This perception began to change about 30 years ago when geologists discovered zircon crystals (a mineral typically associated with granite) with ages exceeding 4 billion years old preserved in younger sandstones. These ancient zircons opened the door for exploration of the Earth’s earliest crust. In addition to the radiometric dating techniques that revealed the ages of these ancient zircons, geologists used other analytical techniques to extract information about the environment in which the crystals formed, including the temperature and whether water was present.
Since then zircon studies have revealed that the Hadean Earth was not the uniformly hellish place previously imagined, but during some periods possessed an established crust cool enough so that surface water could form – possibly on the scale of oceans.

Accepting that the early Earth had a solid crust and liquid water (at least at times), scientists have continued to debate the nature of that crust and the processes that were active at that time: How similar was the Hadean Earth to what we see today?

Panoramic photo of Miller standing on a hilltop
Calvin Miller at the Kerlingarfjoll volcano in central Iceland.  

Some geologists have proposed that the early Earth may have resembled regions like this. (Tamara Carley / Vanderbilt)
Two schools of thought have emerged: One argues that Hadean Earth was surprisingly similar to the present day. The other maintains that, although it was less hostile than formerly believed, early Earth was nonetheless a foreign-seeming and formidable place, similar to the hottest, most extreme, geologic environments of today. A popular analog is Iceland, where substantial amounts of crust are forming from basaltic magma that is much hotter than the magmas that built most of Earth’s current continental crust.

“We reasoned that the only concrete evidence for what the Hadean was like came from the only known survivors: zircon crystals – and yet no one had investigated Icelandic zircon to compare their telltale compositions to those that are more than 4 billion years old, or with zircon from other modern environments,” said Miller.

Tamara Carley kneeling by a stream
Tamara Carley panning for zircons on the bank of the Markarfljot River in south-central Iceland. (Abraham Padilla / Vanderbilt University)

In 2009, Vanderbilt doctoral student Tamara Carley, who has just accepted the position of assistant professor at Layfayette College, began collecting samples from volcanoes and sands derived from erosion of Icelandic volcanoes. She separated thousands of zircon crystals from the samples, which cover the island’s regional diversity and represent its 18 million year history.

Working with Miller and doctoral student Abraham Padilla at Vanderbilt, Joe Wooden at Stanford University, Axel Schmitt and Rita Economos from UCLA, Ilya Bindeman at the University of Oregon and Brennan Jordan at the University of South Dakota, Carley analyzed about 1,000 zircon crystals for their age and elemental and isotopic compositions. She then searched the literature for all comparable analyses of Hadean zircon and for representative analyses of zircon from other modern environments.

“We discovered that Icelandic zircons are quite distinctive from crystals formed in other locations on modern Earth. We also found that they formed in magmas that are remarkably different from those in which the Hadean zircons grew,” said Carley.

Tiny crystals on black background
Images of a collection of Icelandic zircons taken with a scanning electron microscope. They range in size from a tenth of a millimeter to a few thousands of a millimeter. (Tamara Carley / Vanderbilt)

Most importantly, their analysis found that Icelandic zircons grew from much hotter magmas than Hadean zircons. Although surface water played an important role in the generation of both Icelandic and Hadean crystals, in the Icelandic case the water was extremely hot when it interacted with the source rocks while the Hadean water-rock interactions were at significantly lower temperatures.
“Our conclusion is counterintuitive,” said Miller. “Hadean zircons grew from magmas rather similar to those formed in modern subduction zones, but apparently even ‘cooler’ and ‘wetter’ than those being produced today.”

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Cobra: Victory of the Light

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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Victory of the Light will happen with mathematical certainty. There is a law in hyperdimensional physics that is called syntropic inequation. It states that total entropy of the universe decreases with time...

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Wanderer of the Skies – April 14, 2012

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Greetings from the Federation:

There is a great sense of hope developing on your world today as your collective thoughts focus on the arrest of the Illuminati and the restructuring of your financial systems. These are as have been...

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2012: Unlocking Your Humanity, The Year Ahead

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a message from Polaris channeled by Talyaa Liera

Friday, 30 December, 2011  (posted 29 December, 2011)

2012. Twenty. Twelve.

A whole lot of energy has been placed into those words. The number. The date. The year Ever...

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Power Path New Moon ~ Partial Soar Eclipse Update 11-24-11 with Pat Liles

Power Path New Moon ~ Partial Soar Eclipse Update 11-24-11 with Pat Liles

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26 November 2011

Channeler: Lena Stevens

Dear Friends,

The New Moon with a partial solar eclipse is Thursday, November 24 at 11:10 PM Mountain Standard Time. This new moon and eclipse initiates a time period that creates a...

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Prelude to 2012

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a message from Allison Rae

Friday, 18 November, 2011  (posted 22 November, 2011)

Solstice. Stillpoint. Night of creation. Ancient memories echo from the depths of this vast womb. Mother Earth sings the lost songs ...

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A Compilation of articles about stopping whaling

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Sea Shepherd Returns for a Fourth Season of Whale Wars to Put an End to Antarctic Whaling

Animal Planet's Emmy Award-nominated docu-reality series Whale Wars returns for a fourth season beginning Friday, June 3, at 9 PM E/P wi...

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