Inspired by Iceland
SEEDS 21. The old mine of Helgustaðir
SEEDS Iceland
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From 09.07.2009 to 22.07.2009
Type: Environmental / Construction
Number of volunteers: 8
Language: English - high proficiency is not required
Accomodation: Local housing
Participation fee: 120 EUR
Extra: Free time activities and visits in the area will be organized for SEEDS volunteers.

WORK/PROJECT: Just outside the town of Eskifjörður in the eastern fjords is Helgustaðarnáma (the mine of Helugstaðir) which was once one of the largest mines for Icelandic spar in the world.

Volunteers will be working on fixing a walking pathway that leads to the old mine by connecting the walking path to a nearby parking lot to minimise the impact to the environment around the path. Besides from maintaining the trail, volunteers will also be putting up information signs around the pathway as well as in the old mine of Helgustaðir itself, both to mark walking ways as well as to explain how the work was executed while the mine was in operation.

ACCOMMODATION: Volunteers will be hosted in a local house; sleeping on mattresses on the floor; bringing a warm sleeping bag is highly recommended. Food ingredients will be provided and a kitchen will be available, volunteers will share the duties of preparing and cooking meals.

LOCATION: Helgustaðir is the name of a farm site on the northern shore of the Reydarfjord in the outer east of Iceland. The deposit of outstanding transparent calcite was discovered in the 17th century and was intermittently mined for many decades until 1924. The transparency of the crystals where sufficient for the optical industry and therefore the calcite quickly became famous as "Iceland spar" and its marvellous crystals were rapidly distributed among the leading European scientists of that time. The crystal has a double reflection of the light, which gives the illusion that you see everything double if you lay a clear crystal on a written text. The initial concepts of double refraction and crystal cleavage planes were first discovered on calcite crystals from this site and led to a far better understanding of crystal physics. Icelandic spar was used for all kinds of precision instruments, such as microscopes, until synthetic materials took over.

It has been speculated that the Vikings used the light-polarizing property of Iceland spar, which they called sunstone to tell the direction of the sun on cloudy days, for navigational purposes.

Helgustaðir is located in the municipality of Fjarðabyggð in the Eastern Icelandic fjords, as most coastal communities, they largely depend on fisheries. The maritime museum in Eskifjörður displays numerous artefacts depicting the way of life in times gone by. The cape separating the Eskifjörður fjord from Reyðarfjörður, Hólmanes (a protected area now) is renowned for its beautiful landscape, varied vegetation and bird life, particular on the southern part of the cape

In the eastern fjords visitors enjoy remarkable mountain scenery with mountains in almost every direction, majestic peaks, mysterious ravines and deep valleys. It is sometimes said that a visit to the eastern fjords is a mountain therapy because, some believe that they are especially good for body and soul, can be inspiring and give unexplained energy. Hikers will find challenges that suite them and enjoy the wonderful scenery and the mountains are the oldest part of Iceland. The geology is unique and very interesting to explore. Most of them are formed by layers of lava that have piled up through the millenniums.

Please beware of the trolls and the elves that live in cliffs, rocks and caves in the mountains. In the landscape you can see trolls that got caught by the sunlight and turned into rocks. Many of the imposing mountains farthest to the east bear the names of trolls.

LANGUAGE: English will be the official language in the camp, high proficiency is not required.

STUDY THEME: Environmental messenger in the project. S/he will be in charge of delivering ecological and global education messages to both, International volunteers and local hosts.

TERMINAL: Closest International Airport: Keflavík (Reykjavík), KEF. Bus terminal: Reydarfjörður. SEEDS organises the "minibus option", a shared transport from Reykjavík to the camp and vice-versa, which apart from being cheaper and more convenient, allows volunteers to meet and have a relaxed trip, while stopping on the way for interesting and tourist sites.

SPECIAL REMARKS / EXTRAS: Participation fee EUR 120,- (Euros). Free time activities and visits in the area will be organized for SEEDS volunteers.


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