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Ekmanfjord: Coraholmen


The little island of Coraholmen is a jewel in terms of scenery and natural history. It is surrounded by impressive mountains including Kolosseum (highest part visible: 605 metres) and Kapitol (858 metres). This may not seem to high, but these mountains are not just nevertheless impressive and beautiful, but simply unique in terms of their appearance and character.

The same holds true for Coraholmen. For millenia following the last major glaciation (something like 10,000 years ago, or a bit more), the island had been a flat, green tundra island, until the glacier Sefströmnbreen advanced rapidly and strongly in the late 19th century, turning Coraholmen’s western part into a chaos of moraine hills and muddy ponds. The red-coloured sandstone (devonian Old Red) in the catchment area of Sefströmbreen is responsible for the lovely reddish colour. Shells and colony of calcareous algae, similar to corals, make it very clear that the glacier picked up some bits and pieces of fjord bottom and marine sediment already on the island (raised beaches) before mixing everything up into a huge moraine landscape. Hence, it is possible to reconstruct quite a bit of landscape evolution: starting with the deposition of the devonian Old Red almost 400 million years ago, through the ice-age glaciation, followed by the formation of raised beaches (still present on the eastern part of Coraholmen) by post-glacial counter-isostatic land uplift (not clear? Read Rocks and Ice), glacier advances during the 19th centuries Little Ice Age and the pronounced retreat since then.

And there is, of course, wildlife. Arctic terns, geese and ducks in large numbers. You have to exercise great care while moving around during the breeding season. There are Red-throated divers on some of the ponds, and in 2013, we had a wonderful encounter with a rare Sabine’s gull on Coraholmen.

Coraholmen has a slightly smaller neighbour, Flintholmen, which has gone through the same history and is accordingly similar in terms of landscape and appearance.


last modification: 2014-06-05 · copyright: Rolf Stange