Category Archives: Field trips

Synthesis meeting and field trip report

Posted by: Felix Halpaap, Photos by: Stéphane Rondenay

With SWaMMIS coming to an official end soon, we set off for the final project meeting on Sotra on Monday, 16 September. What a great time it’s been since the start nearly four years ago, and the meeting turned out to be a worthy conclusion!

Group photo at the Panorama Hotel

We checked in at the Panorama Hotel all the way at the southern tip of Sotra. Sotra is a narrow, north-south-stretching island made up of pre-Caledonian basement rocks, and separates Bergen from the open North Sea. Here, we were optimally located for our field trip to some world-class outcrops on the third day of the meeting. But first, we spent two days of exciting geoscientific discussions in a cozy conference room – away from any distractions except the view of the sea and rocks. Continue reading Synthesis meeting and field trip report

Holsnøy field trip 27.06.2017 – report

In stark contrast to our first field trip, the second SWaMMIS outing to Hølsnøy took place under brilliant sunshine. The international group included rockhounds from Australia and the U.K. as well as locals eager to learn more about the hills they grew up hiking in.

You can find additional background on the Holsnøy field area and our field trip leader Håkon Austrheim here.

Blocks of “dry” garnet granulite (anorthosite gabbro) within an eclogitized matrix.

Holsnøy field trip 27.06.2017 – logistics

We would like to welcome you to the next SWaMMIS field trip on 27 June 2017!

You can find some background on the Holsnøy field area and our field trip leader Håkon Austrheim here.


Meeting time: 8:15 in front of Realfagsbygget.

Driving to Holsnøy takes about half an hour. Please bring your own lunch – once we are further out on the small and winding roads of Holsnøy, we cannot double back to reach grocery stores or restaurants. The weather forecast looks incredibly good, so make sure to bring sunscreen. But as the locals know, the weather forecast can’t always be trusted, so also have a rain/windproof jacket. Also, do wear waterproof shoes (maybe also gaitors), as the ground could be very wet after this weekend’s rain showers.

As for geological tools, magnifying glasses will be handy. A hammer is not required – the spectacular outcrops should rather be preserved, and we will bring 2 to 3 hammers for the whole group, which should be sufficient in case we come across something interesting.

The geology of Holsnøy

Posted by: Felix Halpaap and Stéphane Rondenay

Håkon Austrheim leads the SWaMMIS field trips to the world-class outcrops of Holsnøy. Håkon is a professor at the University of Oslo, and a petrologist specializing in fluid-rock interactions and pseudotachylytes.

Geologic terranes of the Bergen area. Holsnøy is the island labelled with the number 5, and is part of the Lindås Nappe. Map from the website of Håkon Fossen; see his excellent page on the Bergen Arcs System for more information.

The outcrops on Holsnøy reveal the complexity of rock reactions in the deep continental crust. During the Caledonian Orogeny (400 to 450 million years ago), these rocks were 60 km down at the base of an ancient mountain belt, where the pressure-temperature conditions would be expected to transform granulite facies rocks into ecologites. However, the outcrops we see at the surface today contain both types of rock — white-grey granulite and dark green ecologite. Why is this? Because the process of eclogitization not only requires high pressures and temperatures, it also needs water (H2O). H2O can come from hydrous minerals in the rock or from fluids percolating through the rock. The granulite of the Holsnøy outcrops is rather dry, and thus ecologitization occurred only where it came in contact with aqueous fluids.

Granulite (white) and ecologite (dark green) with red-brown garnets.

Pseudotachylytes (locally molten rock, quickly cooled as amorphous glass) within some outcrops on Holsnøy are evidence of earthquakes at the base of the Caledonides mountain belt, at depths far deeper than where one would normally expect earthquakes according to the brittle-ductile transition (usually around 15 km). Earthquakes deeper than 40 km depth, termed “intermediate depth earthquakes”, are observed today in active subduction zones and at the base of the Himalaya. The mechanism behind intermediate depth earthquakes remains one of the outstanding questions in seismology.

Håkon was one of the first geologists to recognize the field record of deep earthquakes, which led to a number of high-profile publications about the geology in Bergen’s backyard (see, for example, Pseudotachylytes Generated During Seismic Faulting and Eclogitization of the Deep Crust). He has also shaped current ideas that metamorphism cannot be predicted through pressure-temperature conditions alone, but that fluids are usually required to transform an otherwise metastable rock.

See field trip information here.

How “vein” are rock-stars? This is perhaps one of the most photographed outcrops in the Bergen area. Fluids circulating through this vein transformed the surrounding granulite (grey) into eclogite (green).
Blocks of “dry” garnet granulite (anorthosite gabbro) within an eclogitized matrix.

Holsnøy field trip 22.05.2015 – report

On Friday the 22nd of May, a group of intrepid geo-enthusiasts braved the elements to visit the extraordinary rocks found on the island of Holsnøy. The field trip was led by Håkon Austrheim from UiO. Håkon took us to three localities on the island where we saw world-class examples of high-pressure and ultra-high-pressure metamorphic rocks that were transformed deep below the surface and exhumed during the Caledonian orogeny. The metamorphic rocks of Holsnøy will help us better understand dehydration processes and earthquakes that occur in subduction zones, which is the central goal of project SWaMMIS. More excursions are planned over the next four years, so stay tuned if you missed this one – we can’t guarantee as moist an outing, but the rocks are sure to be as impressive!

You can find additional background on the Holsnøy field area and our field trip leader Håkon Austrheim here.

Holsnøy Field Trip
Holsnøy Field Trip