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Last updated: May 27, 2001 Unless otherwise specified; text, tables, photographs, maps and other graphics © 1999-2001 Gunnar Ljungstrand
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The larger glaciers of Sulitjelma

Sulitjelmaisen from Kaskavare Sulitjelmaisen from Kaskavare, August 1, 1996. (44 kB)

Sulitjelma is the mountain area around the large high mountain massif with the same name. It lies right across the border with Sweden, like an impregnable border fortress. The bold horn of Suliskongen (1907 m) is the area´s highest peak and the huge Blåmannsisen some distance to the northwest is the largest glacier, while Sulitjelmaisen in itself is mighty as well.

Northwards there are lower mountains with a few smaller ice caps. South of Balvatnet there are a number of higher peaks, but the glaciers there are small.

Contents

  • The larger glaciers of Sulitjelma with basic data


  • Map over Blåmannsisen - Sulitjelma


  • Table over the glaciers of Sulitjelma larger than 5 km2 (glacier complexes treated as one unit)


  • Table over the glaciers of Sulitjelma larger than 5 km2 (glacier complexes divided into ice streams)


  • Table over the larger glaciers of Sulitjelma with basic data

    #Name Type Area (km2) Length (km) Lowest point (m) Highest point (m) Height difference (m)
    1. Helldalisen Ice cap 1.60 1.6 855 1350 495
    2. Reinoksbreen Cirque glacier 1.31 1.7 870 1250 380
    3. Veikdalsisen Glacier complex 4.69 3.8 765 1395 630
    3a. of which Linajekna Cirque glacier 0.59 0.9 765 1395 630
    3b. of which Tverrelvbreen Ice cap 0.73 1.9 1020 1360 340
    3c. of which Veikdalsbreen Ice cap 3.37 2.9 855 1255 400
    4. Rakojekna Ice cap 2.42+ 1.9 960 1160 200
    5. Tuolpajekna Ice cap 2.71 2.3 895 1210 315
    6. Blåmannsisen Glacier complex 91.69 13.7 690 1535 845
    6a. of which Kjerringbreen Ice cap 2.62 2.5 975 1535 560
    6b. of which Blåmannsbreen Ice cap 8.13 5.3 690 1530 840
    6c. of which Sisovassbreen Cirque glacier 2.30 1.5 925 1385 460
    6d. of which Rundvassbreen Ice cap 10.96 7.0 790 1425 635
    6e. of which Messingmalmbreen Ice cap 1.81 1.6 1010 1415 405
    6f. of which Leirvassbreen Ice cap 27.61 11.7 825 1535 710
    6g. of which Skagmadalsbreen Ice cap 4.02 3.5 935 1180 245
    6h. of which Isvassbreen Ice cap 8.81 3.6 935 1285 350
    6i. of which Austre Stormfjellbreen Ice cap 5.59 3.3 960 1285 325
    6j. of which Vestre Stormfjellbreen Ice cap 4.94 2.9 910 1285 375
    6k. of which Norddalsbreen Ice cap 14.91 7.3 810 1535 725
    7. Linaisen Ice cap 0.01+ 0.1 1360 1430 70
    8. Sårjåsjekna Ice cap 0.71+ 1.8 1010 1380 370
    9. Sulitjelmaisen Glacier complex 28.75+ 9.1 915 1760 845
    9a. of which Salajekna Valley glacier 10.07+ 6.5 1080 1760 680
    9b. of which Vaknajekna Valley glacier 7.23 5.3 915 1670 755
    9c. of which Tjeurajekna Valley glacier 2.15 2.1 1070 1685 615
    9d. of which Vardetoppsbreen Cirque glacier 1.88 2.3 1045 1700 655
    9e. of which Kokedalsbreen Valley glacier 4.75 4.3 1020 1670 650
    9f. of which Damabreen Ice cap 1.64 2.3 1070 1685 615
    9g. of which Kongsbreen Cirque glacier 1.03 1.5 1190 1740 550
    10. Alep Sårjåstjåkkajekna Cirque glacier 1.49 2.2 975 1640 665
    11. Lulep Sårjåstjåkkajekna Ice cap 1.33 1.9 1000 1675 675
    12. Argalaijekna Cirque glacier 0.70 1.0 1130 1380 250
    Total 137.41

    Plus sign after area value means that the glacier is larger, and that part of it lies in Sweden. The number indicates the area on Norwegian territory.


    Map over Blåmannsisen - Sulitjelma

    Map over the glaciers in Blåmannsisen - 
Sulitjelma Map over the glaciers in Blåmannsisen - Sulitjelma. (141 kB)


    1. Helldalisen

    Helldalisen (1.60 km2) is an ice cap in the northwesternmost part of the Sulitjelma area, out at Nordfolda.


    2. Reinoksbreen

    Reinoksbreen (1.31 km2), a pretty large cirque glacier at Reinoksfjellet, lies in the northern Sulitjelma area.


    3. Veikdalsisen

    Veikdalsisen (4.69 km2) is an ice cap of some size in the northernmost Sulitjelma area. It lies south of the sharp peak Kaskatjåkka (1517 m). The glacier´s Lappish name is Väjekajekna.

    3a. Linajekna

    Linajekna (0.59 km2), a steep cirque glacier, lies in Veikdalsisen.

    3b. Tverrelvbreen

    Tverrelvbreen (0.73 km2) is a west-facing patch of Veikdalsisen.

    3c. Veikdalsbreen

    Veikdalsbreen (3.37 km2) is the largest part of Veikdalsisen, which faces south.


    4. Rakojekna

    Rakojekna (2.42+ km2) is the easternmost remaining part of the earlier so extensive Flatkjølisen. It is an ice cap, the tongue of which reaches into Sweden. Counting the Swedish part the area is 3.24 km2.


    5. Tuolpajekna

    Tuolpajekna (2.71 km2) is another isolated fragment of the former Flatkjølisen. Across this ice cap, which now calves in a lake, the "flower king" Linné (Linnaeus) travelled during his journey in Lapland in 1732.


    6. Blåmannsisen

    Blåmannsisen from S Blåmannsisen from S, August 6, 1996. (80 kB)

    Blåmannsisen (91.69 km2) is a huge ice cap in the central Sulitjelma area. It is not so very high, at the most 1535 m (Blåmannen), but very extensive, and relatively unknown. Its Lappish name is Ålmajalosjekna - the same name as a much more modest but still big glacier at the Swedish side has.

    Blåmannsisen from Jeknaffo Blåmannsisen from Jeknaffo, August 6, 1991. (59 kB)

    Blåmannsisen is a prototypical ice cap, whose evenly undulating surface betrays little about the underlying topography. It has two ice domes; one larger in NW around Blåmannen at 1535 m asl, and one in the south at some 1285 m.

    Blåmannsisen from W Blåmannsisen from W, July 26, 2000. (50 kB)

    As a whole Blåmannsisen is pretty even, and ought not to be very much crevassed - of course with local exceptions. The only large icefall lies at the western edge. The glacier is divided into 11 different parts, of which Blåmannsbreen, Rundvassbreen, Leirvassbreen, Søre Isvassbreen, Austre Stormfjellbreen, and Norddalsbreen are the largest. An unusual number of the outlets calve in lakes.

    Maps based on data from Kennet, Mike; Kartlegging av istykkelse og feltavgrensning på Blåmannsisen 1990, supplemented by own observations.

    The surface topography of 
Blåmannsisen The surface topography of Blåmannsisen. (58 kB)
    The bottom topography of Blåmannsisen The bottom topography of Blåmannsisen. (83 kB)
    The ice thickness of 
Blåmannsisen The ice thickness of Blåmannsisen. (75 kB)

    The bottom topography beneath the entire glacier was mapped by NVE in 1986 with radar. In the middle part there is a deep valley and in the northern section a number of deep depressions, covered by more than 400 m of ice, while the southern ice dome is fairly thin, with only some 125 m. The largest measured depth is some 475 m in the middle of the central valley, and in total Blåmannsisen has a volume of about 15.0 km3 and an average ice thickness of 163 m.

    Blåmannsisen from Stortoppen Blåmannsisen from Stortoppen, July 27, 2000. (158 kB)

    6a. Kjerringbreen

    Kjerringbreen (2.62 km2) is a small outlet at the west side of Blåmannsisen. It starts right up at Blåmannen, flows down rather steeply towards a precipice and is rather crevassed. Ice could possibly have begun falling down there during the latest years. Earlier Kjerringbreen was continuos with the larger Blåmannsbreen to the north.

    6b. Blåmannsbreen

    Blåmannsbreen (8.13 km2), a quite large outlet of Blåmannsisen, falls down a precipice in a 800 m wide and 400 m high icefall, forming a large regenerated glacier below. The two parts could possibly have fused together now after the glacier surpluses during the last few years. In the upper parts the ice is 350 m thick.

    During the Little Ice Age the glacier flowed together with Kjerringbreen and flowed out across the lower cliff in a second, 300 m high icefall. The ice front then stood at only 250 m asl some 1.8 km farther out than now. From Lakså you can follow the road up in Norddalen to its end and then continue eastward through the forest up to the lower cliff in half a day. Perhaps it is possible to climb up there somewhere to the glacier snout. In any case you will need boat transport to get over the fiord to Lakså.

    6c. Sisovassbreen

    Sisovassbreen (2.30 km2) is a cirque glacier at the north edge of Blåmannsisen. In its eastern part it is steep and heavily crevassed. This glacier was earlier much larger; in 1961 its front stood some 700 m farther out than now, and its maximum during the Little Ice Age was some 2 km further out than the current position. Now the tongue ends in a small lake.

    6d. Rundvassbreen

    Rundvassbreen from N Rundvassbreen from N, July 14, 1983. (43 kB)

    Rundvassbreen (10.96 km2) is a large outlet to the north from Blåmannsisen. The upper and middle parts are pretty flat with an ice thickness of 375 m and 225 m, respectively. At the western edge there is a steeper part.

    The middle part of Rundvassbreen from E The middle part of Rundvassbreen from E, July 29, 2000. (102 kB)

    The tongue splits in two, where the western one flows down in a steep and heavily crevassed tongue towards Rundvatnet, while the eastern one dams a lake in a side valley with a 30 m high and 600 m wide ice cliff. The lake is drained eastward however, so there are no jökulhlaups.

    The ice cliff of Rundvassbreen from S The ice cliff of Rundvassbreen from S, July 29, 2000. (90 kB)

    During the Little Ice Age the glacier reached 1.0 km farther out than now and covered the small lake 720, but since the early 1980s it has been stable. From the end of the construction road along Sisovatnet you can get to Rundvassbreen in an hour or so.

    Rundvassbreen´s tongue from N Rundvassbreen´s tongue from N, July 29, 2000. (73 kB)

    Stereo image of Rundvassbreen´s tongue from N.

    6e. Messingmalmbreen

    Messingmalmbreen from E Messingmalmbreen from E, July 29, 2000. (117 kB)

    Messingmalmbreen (1.81 km2) is a small patch of Blåmannsisen, which extends down towards Messingmalmvatnan. It now ends in a small lake with a probably floating ice tongue.

    6f. Leirvassbreen

    Leirvassbreen from E Leirvassbreen from E, July 29, 2000. (94 kB)

    Leirvassbreen (27.61 km2) is the largest outlet of Blåmannsisen. A wide accumulation area accumulates vast amounts of ice, which is concentrated into a massive but fairly gently sloping tongue, which calves with a roughly 50 m high and 800 m wide ice cliff in lake Leirvatnet. There are some crevasse zones, in particular close to the ice cliff.

    The tongue of Leirvassbreen from E The tongue of Leirvassbreen from E, July 29, 2000. (221 kB)

    The glacier tongue and the southern part of the accumulation zone cover a deep valley, continuing out to the west side below Norddalsbreen, with its bottom below 800 m asl in large parts. The valley is deep enough that it is possible that lake Leirvatnet would be drained westward if the ice disappeared. As most the ice is some 475 m thick in this area, but the northern part of the accumulation area of Leirvassbreen has an ice thickness of more than 400 m as well.

    Leirvassbreen´s front from E Leirvassbreen´s front from E, July 28, 2000. (75 kB)

    During the Little Ice Age the ice cliff of Leirvassbreen stood farther out in Leirvatnet than now, but not by much - only some 700 m. This for such a large outlet relatively modest value could be due to Leirvatnet being a fairly deep lake and that intense calving put a limit to how far the ice could advance. Leirvassbreen has retreated some during the 20th century, but now its impressive front is more or less stable. In 10 years or so one could possibly expect a certain advance, when the ice surplus of the last few years reaches the snout.

    The ice cliff of Leirvassbreen The ice cliff of Leirvassbreen, July 29, 2000. (79 kB)

    The water from Leirvattnet is now tapped via a tunnel to Sisovatnet to increase the energy production there. Leirvassbreen is distant and can only be reached after at least one day´s hike, regardless if you start at Sisovatnet, Sulitjelma, or Padjelanta in Sweden.

    Crevasse on Leirvassbreen Crevasse on Leirvassbreen, July 29, 2000. (98 kB)

    Stereo image of crevasse on Leirvassbreen.

    6g. Skagmadalsbreen

    Skagmadalsbreen (4.02 km2) is a small outlet from the east side of Blåmannsisen. Earlier it extended down into Blåmannsisvatnet.

    6h. Isvassbreen

    Isvassbreen and Blåmannsisvatnet from E Isvassbreen and Blåmannsisvatnet from E, July 28, 2000. (88 kB)

    Isvassbreen (8.81 km2) is a rather large outlet from the southern ice dome of Blåmannsisen, with an ice thickness of 200 m in the upper parts. It calves in Blåmannsisvatnet with a 2200 m wide and 5-30 m high ice cliff.

    The ice cliff of Isvassbreen The ice cliff of Isvassbreen, July 28, 2000. (162 kB)

    Most ice cliffs in Scandinavia calve by small ice blocks breaking off the cliff and falling down into the water, forming rather many small (a few m in size) icebergs. This glacier is different - it calves a few large (20-50 m in size) icebergs. At my visit there July 28 2000 I counted some 10 icebergs of this size and no small ones whatsoever. This suggests that the lake (in its western part) is so deep that the ice tongue does not reach the bottom, but that it floats. In such cases larger icebergs are broken off from below instead.

    Iceberg in Blåmannsisvatnet Iceberg in Blåmannsisvatnet, July 28, 2000. (49 kB)

    During the Little Ice Age the tongue stood some 1.4 km farther out into the lake than today, but since then it has receded much, even during later years, this probably due to rather extensive calving. Blåmannsisvatnet nowadays drains to the hydroelectric lake Sisovatnet via a tunnel. Isvassbreen can be reached after half a day´s hike from the mine road above Sulitjelma.

    Iceberg from Isvassbreen Iceberg from Isvassbreen, July 28, 2000. (49 kB)

    Stereo image of iceberg from Isvassbreen.

    6i. Austre Stormfjellbreen

    Austre Stormfjellbreen from 
Stortoppen Austre Stormfjellbreen from Stortoppen, July 27, 2000. (77 kB)

    Austre Stormfjellbreen (5.59 km2) is an outlet stretching southwards from the southern snow dome of Blåmannsisen. The ice is rather thin her, only about 125 m at the most. Earlier there was a large portal at the snout, called Breporten, where the melwater stream flowed out, but it is melted away now.

    6j. Vestre Stormfjellbreen

    Vestre Stormfjellbreen (4.94 km2), an outlet of Blåmannsisen, moves westward from the southern ice dome. Its lower part has a few crevasse zones.

    6k. Norddalsbreen

    Norddalsbreen (14.91 km2) is a large outlet from Blåmannsisen. It is fed by both ice domes and moves to the west in a wide tongue filling up the deep valley across towards Leirvassbreen with up to 425 m thick ice. The glacier tongue spreads out in its lower part, ending in a small lake with a 200 m wide ice cliff. The lake is dammed by the glacier and drains below the ice to the stream Leirelva. There is a 1.5 km wide and 500 m high icefall in the mountain side of Blåmannen to the north of the glacier tongue.

    Norddalsbreen has had a completely different history than most other glaciers in the vicinity; at least during the latter part of the 20th century it has advanced, slowly but surely, with some 250 m since 1961. As a matter of fact it today seems to be larger than it was around the year 1900 - the old map shows the glacier tongue in a position further back. There the lowermost part of Norddalsbreen is shown as absolutely horizontal, indicating that the ice tongue was floating then.

    Göran Wahlenberg tells in 1808 that every 7 year there was such a large flood in that stream that the almost cut off fiord arms Øvrevatnet and Nedrevatnet rose several m. This must have been caused by jökulhlaups from the ice-dammed southern lake. This shows that the glacier tongue then, during the Little Ice Age, must have been much thicker and have stood some distance farther out, perhaps 600 m or so. Norddalsbreen is difficult to access; either you hike from the end of the road through the forest in Norddalen and up a few rock slopes, which including boat to Lakså and walk up 10 km road takes a whole day, or you hike across the mountains from the end of the mine road above Sulitjelma, which takes one day too.


    7. Linaisen

    Linaisen (0.01+ km2), or Linajekna in Lappish, is the glacier, almost all of which lies in Sweden, and which is called Ålmajalosjekna there. The total area is 9.60 km2.


    8. Sårjåsjekna

    Sårjåsjekna (0.71+ km2) is an ice cap to the south of Ålmajalostjåkkå. Together with the Swedish part the area is 0.90 km2.


    9. Sulitjelmaisen

    Sulitelma and Blåmannsisen from Lullevare Sulitelma and Blåmannsisen from Lullevare, August 1, 1996. (171 kB)

    Sulitjelmaisen (28.75+ km2) is a very large glacier complex, which covers most of the Sulitelma massif. The largest separate icestream is the mighty Salajekna, but also Vaknajekna and Kokedalsbreen are considerable. Including the Swedish part of Salajekna the total area is 39.29 km2.

    9a. Salajekna

    The 
icefall and ice cliff of Salajekna The icefall and ice cliff of Salajekna, August 8, 1991. (131 kB)

    Salajekna (10.07+ km2) is the largest part of Sulitjelmaisen; an extensive accumulation area which leads down to a massive tongue at the Swedish side of the border. There are several steep and crevassed glacier passes in the upper part, and a small icefall down from a small hanging glacier below Stortoppen (1822 m).

    Salajekna from Stortoppen Salajekna from Stortoppen, July 27, 2000. (134 kB)

    The snout calves in lake Salajaure, which the glacier together with the neighbor Vaknajekna formerly covered entirely. As furthest, during the Little Ice Age, the Norwegian part of the snout stood some 1.1 km farther out than now. Counting the the Swedish part the area is 20.61 km2. In 4 hours or so you can hike to Salajekna from the mine road above Sulitjelma.

    9b. Vaknajekna

    Vaknajekna from E Vaknajekna from E, August 8, 1991. (112 kB)

    Vaknajekna (7.23 km2) is a large valley glacier, a part of Sulitjelmaisen, and it shares accumulation area with the even larger Salajekna. It has a fairly gentle slope, except in its uppermost parts, and it no longer calves in Salajaure. During the Little Ice Age its western front was some 1.1 km farther out than now. You get to Vaknajekna fairly easily in some 3 hours from the mine road above Sulitjelma.

    9c. Tjeurajekna

    The icefall of Tjeurajekna from Stortoppen The icefall of Tjeurajekna from Stortoppen, July 27, 2000. (76 kB)

    Tjeurajekna (2.15 km2) is a small outlet from Sulitjelmaisen coursing westwards down into the cleft between Stortoppen and Vaknatjåkka. It is rather steep and narrow, and has a 400 m wide and 150 m high icefall in the pass proper.

    9d. Vardetoppsbreen

    Vardetoppsbreen and Stortoppen from N Vardetoppsbreen and Stortoppen from N, July 27, 2000. (46 kB)

    Vardetoppsbreen (1.88 km2) is a long cirque glacier, a part of Sulitjelmaisen. It is quite steep and heavily crevassed, and glides down northward in "cascades".

    9e. Kokedalsbreen

    Knekten and Stortoppen from Kokedalsbreen Knekten and Stortoppen from Kokedalsbreen, July 27, 2000. (170 kB)

    Kokedalsbreen (4.75 km2), a pretty even valley glacier in the northwestern part of Sulitjelmaisen, has been used quite a lot as a pass between the town of Sulitjelma and Sårjåsjaure. The middle parts do not have many crevasses, but there are such at the steep edges, particularly in the south.

    Kokedalsbreen with its moraine arc from S Kokedalsbreen with its moraine arc from S, July 27, 2000. (56 kB)

    Kokedalsbreen is split in the middle by a very prominent surface moraine arc, which is something of a mystery. The glacier has retreated only somewhat since the Little Ice Age; the outermost terminal moraines is only some 300 m from the ice edge.

    9f. Damabreen

    Damabreen from N Damabreen from N, July 30, 1996. (47 kB)

    Damabreen (1.64 km2) is a small ice cap in northern Sulitjelmaisen. Its steep tongue forms a 400 m wide and 300 m high icefall as its flows over the cliff.

    The icefall of Damabreen The icefall of Damabreen, 27 juli 2000. (81 kB)

    9g. Kongsbreen

    Kongsbreen (1.03 km2), a cirque glacier in Sulitjelmaisen, lies straight to the north of Suliskongen.


    10. Alep Sårjåstjåkkajekna

    Alep Sårjåstjåkkajekna (1.49 km2) is a glacier in a weak cirque on the west side of Sårjåstjåkka.


    11. Lulep Sårjåstjåkkajekna

    Lulep Sårjåstjåkkajekna 
from N Lulep Sårjåstjåkkajekna från N, July 28, 2000. (56 kB)

    Lulep Sårjåstjåkkajekna (1.33 km2) is an ice cap on the northeast slope of Sårjåstjåkka. It has a large, overhanging snow ledge in the upper part.


    12. Argalaijekna

    Argalaijekna from SE Argalaijekna from SE, August 8, 1996. (51 kB)

    Argalaijekna (0.70 km2) is a cirque glacier south of Argalaitjåkka in the southern Sulitjelma area. It has receded much, with more than half since the last turn of the century.

    The tongue of Argalaijekna The tongue of Argalaijekna, August 8, 1996. (103 kB)

    Argalaijekna is rather steep, but has not so many crevasses (because of slow movement).

    The moraine beds of Argalaijekna The moraine beds of Argalaijekna, August 8, 1996. (79 kB)

    The moraine beds ahead of Argalaijekna displays prominent parallell "stripes", so-called fluted moraine.

    Crevasse on Argalaijekna Crevasse on Argalaijekna, August 8, 1996. (72 kB)

    While the glacier has not particularly many crevasses there are some. Stereo image of crevasse in the upper part of Argalaijekna.


    The glaciers of Sulitjelma larger than 5 km2

    (Glacier complexes treated as one unit)

    Name Area (km2) Type District
    1. Blåmannsisen 91.69 Glacier complex Sulitjelma
    2. Sulitjelmaisen 28.75+ Glacier complex Sulitjelma

    Plus sign after area value means that the glacier is larger, and that part of it lies in Sweden. The number indicates the area on Norwegian territory.


    The glaciers of Sulitjelma larger than 5 km2

    (Glacier complexes divided into ice streams)

    Name Area (km2) Type Glacier complex
    1. Leirvassbreen 27.61 Ice cap Blåmannsisen
    2. Norddalsbreen 14.91 Ice cap Blåmannsisen
    3. Rundvassbreen 10.96 Ice cap Blåmannsisen
    4. Salajekna 10.07+ Valley glacier Sulitjelmaisen
    5. Søre Isvassbreen 8.81 Ice cap Blåmannsisen
    6. Blåmannsbreen 8.13 Ice cap Blåmannsisen
    7. Vaknajekna 7.23 Valley glacier Sulitjelmaisen
    8. Austre_Stormfjellbreen 5.59 Ice cap Blåmannsisen

    Plus sign after area value means that the glacier is larger, and that part of it lies in Sweden. The number indicates the area on Norwegian territory.


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    Last updated: May 27, 2001 Unless otherwise specified; text, tables, photographs, maps and other graphics © 1999-2001 Gunnar Ljungstrand
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