Seiland is an alpine island with many peaks above 800 m, and makes up the most easterly section of Norway’s alpine coastal landscape. The two glaciers, Seilandsjøkelen and Nordmannsjøkelen, are Europe’s most northerly outside Svalbard. In no other place can glaciers be found so close to sea level. Unfortunately, there are few other places where glaciers are melting more quickly. Climate change is causing the glaciers to retreat at a rapid rate, and your map will probably show larger glaciers than actually remain.
Blue ice on Seilandsjøkelen. Photo: Randulf Valle
Seilandsjøkelen from the north. Photo: Per Arne Askeland
Blåis på Seilandsjøkelen. Foto: Randulf Valle, Seilandsjøkelen sett fra nord. Foto: Per Arne Askeland
The distinctive turquoise colour of Melkevatnan. Photo: Ingunn Ims Vistnes
Seilandsjøkelen’s melt water runs into Melkevatnan. Photo: Karl-Otto Jacobsen
Melkevatnans turkise farge. Foto: Ingunn Ims Vistnes, Seilandsjøkelens smeltevann renner ut i Melkevatnan. Foto: Karl-Otto Jacobsen
Seilandsjøkelen is the largest glacier on Seiland. The glacier front to the south borders the Melkevatnan area: a vast plateau with distinctive, undulating terrain. The melt water from the glacier runs out into Melkevatnan and Melkelva, reaching the sea at Store Bekkarfjord. On the map you can clearly see how the lakes and the Melkelva river zig-zag down to the fjord, following faults in the bedrock. The melt water from the glacier contains light-reflecting sediments, giving the water a turquoise or milky-white colour. It is this colour that has given rise to the names Melkelva (“the Milk river”) and Melkevatnan (“the Milk lakes”)
Seiland is a popular haunt of geologists and stone collectors, who are drawn by the rich variety of types of rock and minerals within a relatively small area. The most well-known of these is the “Seiland diamond” zircon, a mineral that is mainly found outside the national park. Seiland has several areas of nutrient-rich, ultrabasic bedrock. This provides a habitat for rare mountain flora. There are a lot of scree and boulder fields on Seiland, and the landscape is still being shaped by weathering and movement of uncompacted materials. In the higher mountain reaches around the glaciers, peridotite and gabbro dominate. The gabbro fields stretch all the way down to the sea in the north-west, from Bårdveggen to Hønsebyfjorden. From a quaternary geological perspective, Seiland is interesting in that nearly all types of glacier and glaciofluvial deposits can be found here.
Hakkfjellet west of Jøfjorden. Photo: Randulf Valle
Heastavággi. Photo: Ingunn Ims Vistnes
Hakkfjellet vest for Jøfjorden. Foto: Randulf Valle, Heastavággi. Foto: Ingunn Ims Vistnes