Mineral changes to the Ikka columns of Greenland
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Mineral changes to the Ikka columns of Greenland

Finally, after several field seasons in Ikka Fjord in SW Greenland and a lot of analytical work, we can celebrate publication of our research results in MDPI minerals:  https://doi.org/10.3390/min12111430

Here we report the mineral changes that we observe in these mineral columns. They used to be made up of the mineral ikaite, but as this mineral is only stable near freezing conditions, warming seawater of Ikka Fjord has led to mineral changes in the columns. We now observe columns constituting of monohydrocalcite (CaCO3xH2O), a less hydrated calcium carbonate mineral than ikaite (CaCO3x6H2O) with its six water molecules. The past winter of Greenland with all its storms appears to have exchanged the warm seawater of inner Ikka Fjord with new cold seawater, which is a good thing! However, if the seawater remains stagnant without exchange, a new period of seawater heating is likely to take place. At least, we notice that the columns looks stressed, both with respect to mineral alterations leading to different appearances but also with a lack of the spectacular biological columnar life we knew from the old days in the nineties. With the ongoing warming in the Arctic, we are not so optimistic the columns will remain ikaite in the future, and the mineral changes are furthermore irreversible. If a new Ice Age should occur or a colder period then the hydrological system of the fjord could build up new columns of ikaite. Why the biological life is so affected is not certain, but new biological fieldwork is planned for Ikka Fjord next year aiming at describing the flora and fauna on the columns. This will hopefully be the initialisation of a continuous monitoring program to follow mineralogical and biological changes to the columns along with monitoring of seawater parameters of Ikka Fjord.

We want to express our gratitude towards all funding agencies in Denmark, Greenland, Iceland and Sweden who supported this project. Excellent logistical and research support was provided by the Joint Arctic Command (JACO), Blue Ice Explorer of Narsarsuaq, Jesper Sano Højdal of HydroChart Aps, Uli Kunz and Florian Huber of SUBMARIS, Kunuk Albrechtsen and Jonathan Rasmussen of Arsuk.

This publication is part of a special issue on ikaite by MDPI minerals.

Photo: Bengt Liljebladh. Columns as they appear by summer 2022.
Photo: Bengt Liljebladh, July 2022.
Photo: Gabrielle. Two co-workers, Bengt Liljebladh and Paul Seaman during fieldwork in Ikka Fjord 2022.
Photo: Paul Seaman. Staying in the Koralhytten during fieldwork 2022.
Photo: Paul Seaman. One of our best assets is Kunuk Albrechtsen and his boat Nuluk of Arsuk.
Photo: Uli Kunz, SUBMARIS. Biological life on the Ikka columns in summer 2021.