The world is filled with many natural wonders like the cavernous North American Grand Canyon in Arizona, the Angel Falls hidden deep within the lush forest of Venezuela, and the majestic Norwegian Fjords, which most will remember from the blockbuster hit, Lord of The Rings. Although the backdrop for the movie was a constant meld of enhanced graphics and real natural beauty, it displayed one of Mother Nature’s most natural designs called a Fjord.
What is a Fjord?
Throughout the ages our planet has been slowly molded like a clay model in the hands of an artist, but instead of fingers manipulating the surface it has been a much more natural process. A Fjord is just one of many such examples of Mother Natures so-called works, but to be honest the birth of these deep valley-like gorges is nothing more than science.
Long before our time during the possible era of the dinosaurs a great time left the planet in a frozen state of ice and snow. As the ice slowly melted large glaciers gashed the surface of the earth carving the superlative Fjords we know of today.
Basically a Fjord could be defined as a large U-shaped valley that is typically much deeper than the adjacent land surrounding it. Most Fjords appear as a fast running river that meanders through a maze of bedrock and tree laden cliff sides. The Fjord is the direct result of what happens as a glacier slowly passes over land, which the massive weight tears apart the surface underneath as it continues its natural movement. The abrasion from the sediment and hardened ice of a monolithic glacier acts much like grinder, although the other distinct part of a Fjord is also due to land shifting. Since most glaciers can become truly massive in both size and weight the pressure they can apply to the earth’s crust can easily stress the tension and elasticity of the surface. After the weight has moved on the land or crust beneath can drastically shift as though it is rebounding from the release of previous pressure.
Fjords are characterized by the rise at the massive opening also known as the mouth, which are the result of the terminal moraine (snout or nose) of a glacier. The impact of the steep opening can directly impact the strength of the current as water moves downstream. Frequently most Fjords carry some of the fastest running rapids due to the unique characteristics of the formation.
Where can I find a Fjord?
Although Europe takes ownership of a majority of the worlds fjords, there are plenty to be found across the world. Below you will find just a sample of some of the most famous fjords in the world.
Some of the most dynamic and magnificent Fjord examples can be found in Norway such as the Norwegian Salstraumen that feeds into the Skjerstad fjord. One of the deepest fjords can also be found in the Western parts of Norway, where the Sogenfjord stretches over 127 miles, and it reaches depths up to 1,308 miles below sea level. The massive size and beauty has aided to the tourism of Norway, where many still clamber to tour the wondrous valleys of Norway.
In Russia you will find Kola Bay, home to a 36 mile long, 5 mile wide fjord, although it nowhere near the massive size of the Norway fjords.
In the northern country of Canada, in British Columbia you will find one of the most impassable fjords known as the Indian Arm. The Indian Arm is next to the city of Vancouver, and it extends north from the Burrard Inlet, between the community of Belcarra and the District of North Vancouver, stretching deep into the mountainous territory beyond.
The United States is also home to a smaller fjord, which can be found off Puget Sound in the Washington state. The Hood Canal is approximately fifty miles in length, and it has an average narrow width of 1.5 miles. The long stretch of valley can be found between Foulweather Bluff and Tala Point, to where it extends beyond a location called The Grand Bend ending at Lynch Cove. The total depth pales in comparison to many other fjords, at an average depth of only 177 feet throughout the entire fjord, but it still serves as important waterway in the United States.
A fjord can be either freshwater or saltwater, and recently science has determined them to be abundant in aquatic life, which has been the area of study by several Norwegian scientists who believe the massive coral reefs found in the fjords contribute to the abnormally large aquatic population. Virtually every corner of our planet is covered with natural and man made beauty, but much like the epic scenes in various Hollywood blockbusters, a fjord is still a sight to behold beyond all others.