Víkurfjara Beach Project
Katla Geopark and Víkurskóli elementary school, in collaboration with Katla Centre in Vik, started a research project called the Víkurfjara Beach Project on the 12th of January 2021. The project aims to study shoreline changes at Víkurfjara beach in front of the village of Vík in the coming years. The shoreline changes are monitored by measuring six beach profiles four times a year, the position of the beach ridge once a year, take sand samples from the beach for sieving and photograph the morphology of the beach during every measurement.
The Víkurfjara beach project received a grant from Sprotasjóður: The Icelandic innovation fund for schools in 2021. Katla Geopark and Víkurskóli elementary school would like to thank Sprotasjóður for their grant and Jóhann Guðlaugsson for lending the project his TopCon GPS device which is used for the measurements.
The aim of the measurements is to monitor and research the stability of the Víkurfjara beach that is protected by the two groynes, as well as providing a platform for students to learn and get experience in conducting scientific research. During the project, the students will take care of all measurement on the beach as well as take care of the data processing, grain size analysis of sand samples, and take aerial photographs with a drone. Students will therefore get a good foundation in research methodology, but such experience will hopefully be useful to them in the future. The project is also intended to increase the students' understanding of coastal environments, especially sandy beaches such as those at Vík, sea currents, tides, waves, and the impact that glacial outburst floods from Katla have on the beach.
The six profiles were set up at Víkurfjara beach when the project started (figure 1), two in the western part of Víkurfjara beach, three between the two groynes, and one east of the groynes. Students measure the profiles with a precise GPS device and a point is taken where the slope of the beach changes. With such measurements, the surface of the beach is measured (figure 2 and 3) at each profile, which is then used to calculate changes in the width and volume of the beach at each profile, which then tell whether the beach has been stable between measurements or not (tables 1-6, Figure 4).
All students at Víkurskóli elementary school participate in the study, but students in 5th-10th. class measure the profiles, together with taking photographs, samples and aerial photographs, while 1st-4th. class conducts independent research on the beach, including the sand and the wildlife that can be found there.
The results from the research project will be able to show the stability of the beach at Vík, how the beach adapts to changing conditions, how the beach recovers from storms and what the long-term development of the beach is in relation to erosion. The students will present their results below and they are updated after each measurement, and the photographs taken by the students during the measurements can be seen here.
Celebrating Earth Heritage
How to visit the Katla Geopark
Katla UNESCO Global Geopark is in central South Iceland