Dug deep

06.01.2015

| Terje Solbakk (text and photo)

Terje Solbakk (photo)

Fjords are often viewed as a uniquely Norwegian phenomenon – and Norway has given them their name. But geology finds them wherever glaciers have been at work – in Argentina, the Himalayas and New Zealand, for example.

They are the product of glacial erosion. When ice masses flow down narrow valleys under the force of gravity, they become thicker and dig deeper.

As the valley widens, the glacier thins out and can no longer cut down so far. The result when the ice ultimately withdraws is a deep trench with a shallower threshold, and this trough fills with water – fresh or salt.

Pictured here is Vestisen, part of the Svartisen glacier in the northern county of Nordland. In front of it lies Nord Fjord, which varies in depth from more than 150 metres to 50 metres at the threshold.