Fall 2013| Posse Los Angeles Quarterly


Dickinson Scholar Heats Up Iceland with Lava Research

Dickinson College Scholar Elizabeth “Liz” Plascencia is studying earth science, environmental geology and physics. This summer, the college sophomore traveled to Iceland to research pillow lava, which forms when a volcano erupts and releases magma under sheets of ice.

Liz, along with a team of three professors and five students from Dickinson College and The College of Wooster, arrived on the Reykjanes Peninsula to better understand pillow lava formation. Climbing in and around multiple volcanoes and across glaciers, they measured, mapped and classified nearly 250 pillow lava samples using geographic information system technology.

“At first I had trouble identifying the distinct features of pillow lava, but after almost three weeks of collecting samples, I gained a significant amount of experience,” says Liz, who is considering a career in volcanic seismology. “I could not have asked for a more worthwhile research experience.”

A dedicated environmentalist, Liz is deeply involved with Dickinson’s earth science program, participating in sustainable urban agriculture research in Cuba and Arctic geology and wildlife research on Canada’s Baffin Island. In addition to being a Posse Scholar, she is a scholar with The National Science Foundation’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Talent Expansion Program, which aims to increase diversity in mathematics and science related fields. 

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