Saturday, 14 July 2012

Ivittuut – rocks & minerals

Today’s landing was scheduled at 14:00 so we started our day with briefings and lectures. We also had some time for ourselves which was nice. In the morning it was a bit foggy but as we approached Ivittuut the weather cleared up very nicely and we started landing according to plan. Ivittuut is a ghost town today but in the past it was quite a busy town built around a cryolite quarry. The mining started in the 1920s and with time the mine became the world’s biggest cryolite source, bringing incredible wealth to Ivittuut. Why was that mineral so expensive? By adding cryolite to aluminium oxide, the melting temperature of aluminium was lowered by half at this reduced production costs immensely. Discovery of synthetic replacement for cryolite in the beginning of 1980s brought an end to the mining. Today only a few buildings and a 80m-deep quarry filled with water resemble splendour of the town. One of the buildings was turned to a museum and had a display of minerals which could be found around the mine. 
 Not only minerals were the highlight. We have seen Musk ox! In 1988, 19 specimens were introduced and by 2012 are about 500 of them.