Formation of the fjords
During the last Ice Age, some 3 million years ago, the whole of Scandinavia was covered with a massive ice sheet, reducing in thickness towards the coast. The existing river valleys were gouged out by the ice to ever greater depths often as deep as the rocks rearing above the valley were high.
Since along the coast the ice was thinner the fjords were gouged out to a lesser depth at their mouths. The bank at the mouth of a fjord may be only some 180 m (600 ft) deep, while farther inland depths of up to 1 350 m (4400 ft) have been measured.
When the ice retreated the huge fjord basins were filled with sea-water. Thanks to the salt content of the waterand to the warming influence of the Gulf Stream the fjords remain ice-free throughout the year except in their innermost branches.
The great icefields in the mountain regions are remnants of the Ice Age glaciers. The melt-water from these surviving glaciers, pouring into the valleys in countless waterfalls, is now harnessed in many places to produce hydroelectric power. precipitous rock walls. The Trondheim-fjord, on the other hand, occupies a broad drowned longitudinal valley with numerous inlets opening off it. The much ramified fjords in the area of the Norwegian 2000 m (6000 ft) peaks have the appearance of flooded Alpine valleys. In southern Norway and Bohuslan, where the mountains slope down more gently towards the coast and the ice cover was not so thick, the fjords are shorter; only the Oslofjord reaches far inland in a tectonic rift valley (a valley formed by deformation and subsidence of the earth’s crust).
The inlets on the east coast of Jutland, like those of Schleswig, reach inland into green and fertile rolling country.
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