Lectures in Stockholm on Volcanoes of the World
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Lectures in Stockholm on Volcanoes of the World

Written by Erik Sturkell

At the Department of Geological Sciences at Stockholm University it’s possible to attend public evening courses. These are organized as evening classes and have been offered since 2001. Otto Hermelin started this successful program and together with colleagues offered courses in interesting topics such as Evolution of Life, Earthquakes, Deserts, and Volcanoes of the World. During the first twenty years those popular courses attracted more than 20 000 students. Most of the courses have lectures during the whole semester, an exam, and an excursion. These courses are generally attended by two main groups of students (a bimodal distribution): 1) people close to retirement, and 2) young students interested in the topic and realizing that excursions are a great way to learn more! The group of older students is fantastic. They always read through all course material – even before the lectures take place! The perhaps most infamous of these evening classes, which attracted some unwanted media attention was the Whisky Geology course. It included an excursion to the Scottish island Islay led by Professor Alasdair Skelton to understand how metamorphic rocks and groundwater fluids interact (see featured photo above), and how the chemistry of the fluids affects the taste of the whisky. Due to some criticism of the course name, it was forced to change name to Geological Fluids.

Photo: Erik Sturkell. The Laphroaig Whisky Distillery on Islay.
Photo: Erik Sturkell. The groundwater used in the whisky production is important for the taste of the whisky.

I have been lecturing on the evening courses of volcanoes and earthquakes at Stockholm University for many years. Together with Alasdair Skelton, I led the excursions following the Earthquake course, which went to the north of Iceland. Now finally, the courses and excursions have awoken after the dark times of the covid-19 pandemic. The organisation, leadership, and the name of the course have changed slightly and is now a merger of the old Earthquake course (Alasdair’s) and the Azores’ volcano course (Otto’s). I gave two hours of lectures on Iceland’s volcanoes the 19th of March for about 30–40 students at Stockholm University. Great to see so many students having an interest in this topic! End August, Otto Hermelin and I will guide an excursion all around Iceland to study the volcanoes in more details. Good to have the course back in business! Below you find the link to the course homepage, where you can also see what other evening courses are offered:


Photo: Erik Sturkell. The Grímsvötn volcano in Iceland erupting in 2011.