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Natural Wonders of the Polar Regions
Arctic
Antarctic
The Polar Plateau
Mount Erebus
Antarctic Sea Ice
Dry Valleys
Antarctic Peninsula

 

 

 

 

Ikka Fjord
Greenland, Arctic
Earth's Natural Wonders in the Polar Regions
Average water temperature: 37 F (3 C)
Maximum depth; 98 feet (30m)
Number of mineral columns: approx. 700
 
 
 
Ikka Fjord-P.Seaman [1]

 

The underwater world of Ikka Fjord in southwestern Greenland is like no other, for it contains a forest of remarkable mineral columns growing on the seabed. Although first described 35 years ago, research began in 1995 determined that the towers are made of a form of calcium carbonate, called ikaite.[2]

The Ikka Project is an multinational, multidisciplinary group studying ikaite and in particular the remarkable submarine columns formed from ikaite found growing on the bed of Ikka Fjord southwest Greenland. In Ikka Fjord ikaite columns up to 20m high are found growing over submarine springs over a 2km stretch of the fjordbed. Over 700 such columns have been mapped in Ikka fjord and this area has been named 'The Ikka Column Garden' by the Ikka Project.

The Ikka Project is a group of scientists from a number of institutions, namely: The Geological Institute, The Botanical Institute and The Zoological Museum of the University of Copenhagen, Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, London and The School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of Victoria, BC, Canada.

In Ikka Fjord ikaite precipitation from a reaction between the water from submarine springs and seawater has led to the development of hundreds of ikaite tufa columns, some of which which reach heights of up to 20m. Ikka Fjord and its beautiful ikaite 'Column Garden' has become the focus of research for a multi-national, multi-disciplined group of scientists of The Ikka Project working from a common base at The Geological Institute, The University of Copenhagen. In Ikka fjord ikaite precipitation is favoured by an ideal spring chemistry and the physical conditions in the fjord. The ikaite precipitates from springs rich in bicarbonate ions reacting with calcium ions from the seawater that fills the fjord (Buchardt, et al. 1997). Calcite, the normal calcium carbonate mineral expected to form in such a geological system, is inhibited from forming by the levels of phosphate present in the springs and the cold water environment of the fjord make conditions favourable for ikaite precipitation. The submarine spring system is connected to a carbonatite intrusion that straddles the fjord and it is the passage of the groundwater through this complex that enriches it in the bicarbonate ions and phosphate required for ikaite formation. This relationship is clearly demonstrated by the fact that in Ikka fjord ikaite columns are only found within the outcrop of the intrusive complex.[3]

 

Hundreds of mysterious columns grow out of a seabed deep inside a fjord in southern Greenland. They are formed by one of the rarest minerals in earth, ikkait, which is stable only in cold Arctic water.

 

naturesciencedk
December 08, 2008

The World Wonders .Com-visit 1,000 world wonders at www.theworldwonders.com

 

 
 
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References
 
1.The Geological Institute, University of Copenhagen -retrieved 7/25/2009
2.1,001 Natural Wonders You Must See Before You Die 2005-p. 934- Michael Bright-retrieved 7/25/2009
3.Ikaite- Natural occurrences of ikaite-retrieved 7/29/2009
 
 

 

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