Sunday, 5 September 2010

The Big Hole

Nope, it's not for diamonds they dug here like in Kimberley. But since 1854 they spent men, time and a lot of money to go for a worthless white rock you'd just walk by. But throw it in the fire with corundum and you get - aluminum. Well, not just like that, it's a little more complicated. But Cryolithe, the "ice stone", was not only of economic value but - think war here - also of strategic importance. And so the military moved in to protect the place, until the mine was abandoned in 1987 when artificial cryolithe was produced.
All that remains today is a ghost town on the fringe of a unfathomably deep pool, framed by woodworks that once were the mine's bulkhead. But one of these buildings is a mineralogy museum with a superb collection of rock and ore samples, mostly taken care of  by John, a true rock man, always recognisable by his hammer and the magnifying glasses round his neck. So sit in the sun or in the shade (they have real trees here! You don't see that often in Greenland…) , walk across the plains and marvel at the beautiful rocks or see the museum. 
But whatever you do - watch out for musk ox!! About 300 of these bulky relatives of goats (!) are currently living in the area, and you sure do not want to bump into those in the thickets, they are known to charge quickly. But today we're lucky, no encounters. Instead we see a group of the brown furry animals in the slopes of the fjord just after our departure. So they are there, after all. We have time enough, so Captain Arnvid stops the vessel and we spent a little while, watching the oxen ramble across the mountain flank. A wonderful sight!