If you look up at one of Lofoten’s highest mountains, Hermannsdalstinden with its 1029 meters, it is easy to be fascinated. Together with the rest of the Lofoten Wall, which can be seen from the mainland on clear days, it houses a rare geological history.

In fact, Lofoten has some of the world’s oldest rock, up to two billion years old. It is originally of volcanic origin, but was somewhat later transformed. Granites and syenites are of magmatic origin, and are known to be very hard. 

The rock is dominated by mangerite, mica schist, gabbro as well as some gneiss. Historically there has been mining in Lofoten for copper, iron ore, titanium iron and molybdenum, however none of these mines are in operation today.

Hermannsdalstinden, på 1029 meter over havet, er den høyeste fjelltoppen i Lofotodden nasjonalpark
Hermannsdalstinden (1029 moh.) er den høyeste fjelltoppen nasjonalparken. Foto: Ole-Jakob Kvalshaug
Tydelige skurestriper i berget vitner om at isbreen en gang dekket området.
Scratches cut into the bedrock, called glacial striation, shows that the ice sheet once upon a time covered the area.

Several ice ages have created the current alpine landscape with its ridges and peaks, polished by the movement of the masses of ice. Here you will not find mountain plateaus to any large extent. Once you have reached a peak, the trail quickly descends again. Geologists believe the peaks were created by glaciers that were smaller than in the rest of Scandinavia during the ice ages, and that Lofoten acted as a wall that guided the ice south. Out on the shelf, the ice masses were thin enough for the peaks to stick out of the ice. It is therefore glaciers – more than the massive ice masses – that have contributed to grinding the mountain peaks from both sides over several periods.

I some areas you can see evidence of glacial striation, scratches or gouges cut into the bedrock as a result of rocks and sand transported by the moving ice sheet. 

Geologists attributes the differences in the rock formations of Lofoten to the age of the rock. At the far end of Lofoten, as in Lofotodden National Park, the peaks are wilder and sharper because they consist of harder rock types that originate from the earth’s primeval times. Hard rock such as granite grinds down more slowly, thus the dramatic appearance. Further into Lofoten, towards Leknes, there are younger and less hard rock. The consequence is a softer appearance of the surrounding mountains.

Utsikt mot Kjerkfjorden
Utsikt mot Kjerkfjorden. Foto Benjamin Fredriksen.
Feriehus på Tennes i Reinefjorden
Den fraflyttede bygden Tennes i Reinefjorden. Foto Benjamin Fredriksen.

The Flakstad island in Lofoten also contains rock such as anorthosite, which has inspired the European Space Agency ESA to carry out excursions to train astronauts in recognizing the different types of rock for their trips to the moon.

If you look carefully in the rock masses at the E10 on Reine, you may find dark gray stripes. These are the marks of earthquakes that happened up to 400 million years ago.