GEOLOGY & FORMATION
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The major formations in Norway date back 500 - 400 million years ago when the North-American tectonic plate collided with the Eurasian plate. Intrusive rock was folded and lifted, forming the Caledonian mountain ranges across Europe, including the Norwegian mountain ranges.
Around 500,000 years ago the first ice age began, bringing higher precipitation and lower temperatures, which resulted in the formation of a massive ice cap covering large parts of Northern Europe. The slow movement of the massive cap carved the peaks of the hard rock to domes, called Fjells, and led to the formation of vast plateaus, called Vidde. Both are usually found above 1,000m and are today covered by tundra vegetation. Impressive Fjell regions include Jotunheimen in Western Norway or Dovrefjell South of Trondheim. Hardangervidda in Southern Norway is the best known example of a Vidde plateau.
FJORDS & GLACIERS
The ice cap also deepened existing valleys during the ice age. After the ice melted around 8,000 years ago, the sea level rose by around 90m, subsequently flooding the valleys and forming the fjords. In some areas, the fjords reach more than 1,000m below sea level. Other valleys were carved by the melting waters from under the ice, which then later filled with sea water, like the Oslofjord. The ice also left its mark on the coastal areas, rounding the edges of archipelagos
and little islands. The Norwegian glaciers were not formed during the last ice age, but only 2,500 years ago after conditions harshened once again. They reached their biggest expansion over the small ice age during the 17th century, but have been retreating since the mid 18th century. Much of Norway’s landscape has been shaped by glaciers with soil, stone and water accumulations.
Even though the climatic conditions are favorable, the variety in flora in Norway is rather limited. Most of the 2,000 different plants can be found elsewhere, only some of the mountain plants are unique to Norway.
Around a quarter of mainland Norway is covered by forest. While you find deciduous forests in the South, conifers and needle beams are most common covering the higher areas and the North. Cow-berries, blue berries and mushrooms are very common in the forests.
The tree line lies at around 1,000m and a low tundra vegetation with small shrubs, moss and lichen can be found above, giving the fjell and vidde areas a colorful glow in the autumn months.
The forests are inhabited by moose, wolves and deer and you can also find reindeers in the higher areas. Bears, polar foxes, lynx and lemmings live in the North and musks, offspring of the ice age, are common around the Dovrefjell in Mid-Norway.
Due to large coastal areas and many rivers and lakes, fish is plentiful and species rich. While you find mostly wild salmon and trouts in the rivers, the sea is full of cod, mackerels, herrings or salmon. Seals and
whales are also common in the Norwegian waters. Further, Norway is home to almost 200 different species of birds, most of them living North of the arctic circle. Birds of prey, including hawks, eagles and buzzards live along the coast. Thanks to the gulf stream, the fjords don’t freeze over the winter and birds can find food all year long.
Geology & Nature