SoS RARE Greenland Fieldtrip July/August 2016

Contact at the Narsaq Brae Glacier, Ilímaussaq (Note people highlighted for scale!). Photo Copyright Nicky Horsburgh
Narsaq Brae Glacier, Ilímaussaq Complex – the magma chamber roof zone can be seen exposed in the cliff behind the team. Photo Copyright Nicky Horsburgh
On Motzfeldt (Mount Doom) looking down on Motzfeldt So. Photo Copyright Adrian Finch

Between the 18th July to the 10th August the St. Andrews SoS RARE team (Prof Adrian Finch and Nicky Horsburgh), joined by Dr Will Hutchison (HiTech AlkCarb, also St. Andrews University) undertook a fieldtrip to South Greenland to investigate alkaline magma chamber roof zones to gain insights into magmatic processes and the behaviour of volatiles. We spent three weeks in the field, making field observations and collecting rock and REE-bearing mineral samples.

The field expedition was based in Narsarsuaq and included helicopter lifts to two remote camps. Our first basecamp was on the valley floor at the foot of the Ilímaussaq Mountain and beside the Narsaq Elv River. For this part of the trip we were within the Ilímaussaq Alkaline Complex, intrusions of augite syenite, alkali acid rocks and agpaitic nepheline syenites and were joined by Henrik Friis (Associate Professor of Mineralogy, Natural History Museum, Oslo). We spent two days looking and sampling the contact at the Narsaq Brae Glacier which is spectacularly exposed in vertical section. A further four days were spent at Kvanefield, the Taseq Slope and Steenstrup's Fjeld - hiking mountains while sampling rocks and REE-bearing minerals (including eudialyte, steenstrupine and nacareniobsite).

The helicopter trip to the second basecamp, located beside "Chocolate Hill", was truly incredible - taking us over mountains and icefields. We spent seven days on the nunatak within the Motzfeldt Centre, exploring the exposed magma chamber roof zone and contacts with the Eriksfjord. This provided information on magmatic processes and afforded opportunities to collect samples, including REE-bearing pyrochlore. After a hard week of fieldwork (and eating camp cooking) we were very pleased to see the helicopter returning to pick us up, and even more pleased when our agent (John from the hostel) brought us a cup of tea to the airfield to welcome us back!

Our final camp took us to Narsarsuk, examining the Narsarsuk and Nanna pegmatites. The final day was spent at the harbour in Narsarsuaq preparing our samples and equipment for shipping to the UK - which went much more smoothly than we were expecting (with help from John). Fingers are now crossed for a speedy and safe delivery of the samples.

Nicky Horsburgh, 31 August 2016

Collecting samples close to the summit of the Taseq slope, Ilímaussaq Complex. Photo Copyright Nicky Horsburgh
Looking at the Eriksfjord Formation on the 1610 m summit, Motzfeldt Centre. Photo Copyright Nicky Horsburgh
Investigating basalt xenoliths, Motzfeldt Centre. Photo Copyright Nicky Horsburgh

John brings us tea at the airfield at Narsarsuaq, with our pilot Simon. Photo Copyright Nicky Horsburgh

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