2023 GS1 Answer

Q. How are the fjords formed? Why do they constitute some of the most picturesque areas of the world?

Question from UPSC Mains 2023 GS1 Paper

Model Answer: 

Formation of Fjords

Fjords are long, narrow inlets with steep sides or cliffs, created by glacial activity. They are found mainly in Norway, but also in other countries with high latitudes such as Canada, New Zealand, Greenland, and Chile. The formation of fjords is a result of a long process involving several geological activities.

Glacial Activity

The formation of fjords begins with the action of glaciers. During the ice ages, glaciers moved across the land, carving deep valleys into the earth’s surface. These valleys were then filled with seawater when the glaciers melted, forming fjords. The process is similar to the formation of valleys, but with an additional step of being submerged in water.

Tectonic Activity

In addition to glacial activity, tectonic activity also plays a significant role in the formation of fjords. Tectonic activity refers to the movement of the Earth’s crust, which results in the formation of various geographical features, including mountains and valleys. In the case of fjords, tectonic activity causes the land to sink, allowing seawater to flood the valleys carved by glaciers.

Post-Glacial Rebound

Post-glacial rebound is another significant factor in the formation of fjords. It refers to the rise of land masses that were previously depressed by the huge weight of ice sheets during the last glacial period. This process can cause the land around fjords to rise, further deepening the fjord.

Why Fjords are Picturesque

Fjords are considered some of the most picturesque areas of the world due to their unique and dramatic landscapes.

Stunning Scenery

Fjords offer stunning scenery with their deep blue waters, steep mountainsides, and often snow-capped peaks. The contrast between the tranquil waters and the rugged cliffs creates a breathtaking view.

Natural Habitats

Fjords also serve as natural habitats for a variety of wildlife, adding to their beauty. They are home to several species of birds, marine mammals like seals and whales, and numerous types of fish. This rich biodiversity makes fjords a fascinating place for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts.

Examples of Fjords

Norway is famous for its fjords, with the Geirangerfjord and the Nærøyfjord being among the most well-known. These fjords are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites due to their exceptional natural beauty. The Geirangerfjord is known for its waterfalls, while the Nærøyfjord is one of the narrowest fjords in Europe.

In New Zealand, the Milford Sound is a stunning fjord known for its rainforests, waterfalls, and wildlife. Meanwhile, Canada’s Saguenay Fjord is a popular spot for whale watching.

In conclusion, fjords are formed through a combination of glacial, tectonic, and post-glacial rebound activities. Their unique landscapes, rich biodiversity, and stunning natural beauty make them some of the most picturesque areas in the world.

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