2008 GREENLAND GEO-ADVENTURE TOUR
(Note: this is just one of many trip reports published over the years. Several have been written in the FMS UV Waves newsletter, one in the FMS Journal, and a couple posted on other web sites.)
In July of 2008 I traveled to Greenland for what I thought might be my last venture to this remote part of the world (it wasn't). I have traveled there yearly since 2001 and have felt genuinely lucky that each year was as productive and safe as it was - each year I proclaim to be my last; this one probably is. Joining me were 15 hardy souls in two tour groups. I stayed in country for almost 30 days.
We traveled to Greenland via Iceland. Leaving JFK around 4pm we arrived in Iceland the next morning. After hanging around the airport all day we left for Greenland in the afternoon and arrived at the same time we left (time change = 2 hours, flight time = 2 hours). This was followed by a 2 1/2 hour boat ride to Narsaq (red dot on map at left), settle in at the hostel and then - what would any ordinary rock hound do after 24 hours of travel? We set out to climb a mountain!
Several folks were antsy to make the trek to the Taseq Slope immediately. So we packed our gear and headed out for the quick ride to the valley in between Kvanefjeld and the Taseq Slope. The weather was amazing - warm with clear skies - the best I have ever seen in Greenland. This was to hold for the entire month I was in country!
We didn't arrive atop the slopes until 8pm or so that night - some later than others. But we still had plenty of daylight left to scout the area, as it doesn't get dark until 11pm.
The Taseq Slope extends the width of the complex (8km). This first night we spent all of our time on the western edge of the complex. Other days we spent time in the middle and the eastern edge. Collecting was very productive in this area, and I returned many times in the month I spent in Greenland. For four days I camped in the area alone - just me, rocks, and the distant sounds of icebergs exploding in the fjords below.
Major finds in this area included a combination mineral we have nicknamed Fantasy Rock. Magnificent combinations of sodalite, tugtupite, analcime, chkalovite and many other minerals create 6 and 7 color specimens with striking patterns.
Also found in this area are bright specimens of tugtupite on analcime, many with very bright polylithionite - and large boulders of silvery polylithionite.
After a night on the slope we returned to the hostel to try and recover a little (we had camped atop the slope). The next few days were spent exploring other areas off this valley.
The opposite side of the slope offers up totally different type material - but quite attractive and unique. Several days were spent in this area collecting "Taseq Tugtupite" - veins of pink tugtupite in analcime matrix, often with crystals.Both tour groups spent a lot of time in this area - it is both productive and fun to explore.
Later in the week we turned our attention to Kvanefjeld where most of the gem quality tugtupite is mined. There's an abandoned mining road leading halfway to the top, and then it's a quick climb to the top (700m).
Notable finds in this area were tugtupite/chkalovite combination pieces, and a new variety of tugtupite which is fluorescent blue under MW (purplish under SW).
Over the next few days we made several boat trips to various spots within the complex. The most popular were areas off the Tunuliarfik Fjord.
Major specimens of sodalite, ussingite and tugtupite can be found in these areas. One new area produces fantastic specimens of hackmanite - a color change variety of sodalite. This material is so sensitive to UV that it changes color even in the sunlight, and almost turns black under SW.
The trek to these areas is not as easy as one might think. The cliffs around the fjord do not offer many convenient places to dock a boat, so we must usually dock some distance from our intended destination, and it's always a climb up to the "spot" (usually 300m to 500m).
Some enterprising individuals decided to get some fishing time in once they had their fill of rocks. I have never eaten as well as I ate on this tour - fresh codfish, trout, mussels were the routine!
The entire tour offered everyone huge opportunities to try out their amateur photography skills. The scenery is spectacular, and it seems that no one tired of taking pictures of icebergs.
Several trips were made to a new area where very fluorescent blue sodalite is found. We discovered a new vein of material which the tour members proceeded to pillage any way they could. This material is very tenebrescent, but also a quite beautiful fluorescent mineral.
Towards the end of the month we visited the Kangerlussaq Fjord and explored one of our tugtupite mines in the area. This consisted of a lot of digging and rock breaking in the very friable rock-soil and resulted in significant specimens of tugtupite unlike any found elsewhere in the complex.
After 30 days, it was my turn to depart Greenland. I left with the 2nd tour group, made my way back to the states via Iceland - happy to be home.
In the background - Ilimaussaq Mountain. The stream is a glacial fed stream - cold pure water.