Geological History of Greenland - Four billion years of earth evolution

The mountains and fjords of Greenland preserve a record of nearly four billion years of Earth history - a story of mountain building, volcanic eruptions, primitive life and ice ages. During the vast period of time, through processes of continental drift, Greenland has journeyed from the southern hemisphere through the tropics to its present polar position. This volume presents an account of the geological evolution of Greenland, together with its mineral wealth and hydrocarbon potential. It is written in a form that is aimed at the general reader with interest in the dramatic history of our planet.

Author: Niels Henriksen

  • 270 pages profusely illustrated with photographs, maps and drawings with comprehensive figure captions.
  • 850 coloured figures describing and explaining the geology
  • 60 fact boxes focussing on geological concepts and processes
  • 18 page geological glossary (a mini-geological lexicon)
  • References to both general and specific scientific background literature.
  • Index with geological and geographical entries

The mountains and fjords of Greenland preserve a record of nearly four billion years of Earth history - a story of mountain building, volcanic eruptions, primitive life and ice ages. During the vast period of time, through processes of continental drift, Greenland has journeyed from the southern hemisphere through the tropics to its present polar position. This volume presents an account of the geological evolution of Greenland, together with its mineral wealth and hydrocarbon potential. It is written in a form that is aimed at the general reader with interest in the dramatic history of our planet.

Greenland has a land area of over 2 million km2, 81% of which is covered by a central ice cap - the Inland Ice. The surrounding ice-free marginal zone is sparsely populated and is characterised by a mountainous arctic landscape. Ice-scoured outcrops are spectacularly exposed along steep fjord walls carved by glaciers draining the Inland Ice. This makes Greenland ideal for geological studies, because the rocks, the structures that deform them and the details of the development of the rock complexes with time can be read like an open book.

The geological development of Greenland spans almost four billion years. The central basement shield is composed of gneiss complexes and belts of metamorphosed sedimentary and volcanic rocks that came into existence during mountain-building episodes 3800-1600 million years ago. Around the margins of this basement shield, thick sedimentary deposits accumulated in extensive basins. Two coast-parallel younger mountain chains formed in North-East and North Greenland about 430-350 million years ago. Major volcanic successions, related to the plate-tectonic opening of the North Atlantic Ocean 60-55 million years ago, were erupted in both East and West Greenland. The Ice Age that began about 2 million years ago is represented by widespread glacial deposits, erosional features and the present-day Inland Ice.

The book summarises the results of more than 60 years of geological investigations in Greenland and the surrounding shelf areas. It has been written with a professional background and is presented in a form that is suitable not only for the general, interested reader, but also for students and geologists without a specific knowledge of Greenland geology. It includes explanations of basic geological concepts and processes for the non specialist, and describes the potential for economic resources, both onshore and offshore.

The book has been written by Niels Henriksen, former head of the Department of Geological Mapping at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS). For more than 30 years he has led scientific expeditions to all parts of Greenland and has an intimate knowledge of Greenland's geology and nature.