Quaternary geology

The protected areas are part of the basement rock of mid-Precambrian age, which is between 2.5 billion and 900 million years old. Around 60 million years ago, today’s islands formed part of a flat landscape in the centre of the supercontinent known as Pangaea. Pangaea broke up along what is now the Norwegian coast, and coastal Norway was created. The landscape has been formed by both mechanical and chemical breakdowns. Land uplifts, glaciers, rivers, ice erosion and waves left the harder rocks standing as mountains. The remnants of the plains were left as mountain plateaus, while other rocks became lower raised beaches or beaches.

Photo: © Oddrun Skjemstad
Photo: © Oddrun Skjemstad

Rock types

The most common rock types in these areas are gneiss, migmatite, foliated granite, gabbro and amphibolite. Granite and gabbro are igneous rocks, which means that they were once magma in the interior of the Earth and came to the surface as a result of volcanic activity.

The last Ice Age

During the last Ice Age around 20,000 years ago, the areas out here next to the open sea lay under bodies of ice up to 400 metres above today’s sea level. The area here became ice-free between 15,000 and 13,000 years ago, although a cold period meant that the glaciers remained in the mountains until around 10,000 years ago.

Superficial deposits

There are many superficial deposits from the natural processes that have shaped today’s landscape. You can see boundary moraines, terminal moraines, ground moraines, lateral moraines, hummocks and kettle holes, large boulders, pebbles and sand that forms today’s sand dunes. Other geological landscapes visible in the protected areas are rock terraces, beach ridges, beach terraces, river deltas, mountain plateaus and hanging valleys.

Photo: © Oddrun Skjemstad
Photo: © Trine Marie V. Hagelin

Where to find the occurrences

You can find a number of these Quaternary geological occurrences on Nordkvaløya, among other places. Beach terraces can be found at Skjervika, while Litlevika has a superb pebble intertidal zone and Fuglebergvika has fields of shifting sands. Shifting sands and sand dunes can be found in a number of locations within the protected areas, and the white beaches are an experience in themselves. Beach ridges can be found at Rekvika, while Sørskarvågen has several examples of boundary moraines. A river delta can be seen at Nordskaret. And, on several of the islands, you can see a relatively high marine limit from the time when the soil was pushed downwards by the bodies of ice during the last ice age.