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In 1968 the Quaternary Field Studies Group (QFSG), later renamed the Quaternary Research Associaton (QRA), was three years old and delivered its first overseas field meeting, at Breiðamerkurjökull in southeast Iceland. Fifty years later the QRA finally returned to southeast Iceland to run a joint field meeting with the Glacial Landsystems Working Group (GLWG), which is reported here
The field area, and Breiðamerkurjökull in particular, is also highly significant, being the location of: 1) the first systematic study of a modern analogue glacial process-form model, published in 1969 by R.J. Price; 2) the production of one the earliest time series sets of glacier foreland maps by the University of Glasgow, which together with historical documentation constitutes the longest series of charted glacier snout recession; and 3) the benchmark subglacial deforming layer monitoring accessed via a tunnel in the west snout by Geoffrey Boulton and co-workers in the late 1970s.
Since the 1968 field meeting the area has thus become the ideal outdoor laboratory for the study of glacial process and landsystem evolution, with continued glacier snout recession delivering observable and quantifiable spatial and temporal change in a range of landsystem exemplars. This richness and diversity in earth surface processes is a major component of the repertoire of the Vatnajökull National Park and is central to its recent submission to UNESCO for World Heritage status. For GLWG the time is right for a visit to the full range of modern landsystems on offer in the area, including active temperate, debris-charged, jökulhlaup, overdeepening / outwash head and surging, in addition to observing the operation and impacts of supercooling and subglacial till deformation.