Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Geology field trip at Arlanda airport

The next time you have too many hours to wait for your next flight at Stockholm-Arlanda airport why not step outside and have a short geology field trip?

I had a long layover on my way to France, and it was much too nice of a spring day to spend the wait inside. The first thing I noticed when I stepped outside is that spring in southern Sweden is much further along than it is in the north. At home the snow was still fully covering the ground, though starting to get soft and melty. Down here there is no snow left at all, though the flattened, yellow state of the grass attests to the fact that there was snow on the ground fairly recently.ere is

I set out from Terminal 5, following the bike/walking path to the
left from the building (note: use the exit on the lower floor; the sidewalk on the upper level dead-ends at the top of the driving ramp to the loading zone). I found the first outcrop straight away: a tall chain-link fence protects unwary travelers from falling over the edge of a small, man-made cliff.

Not being able to resist the allure of a fresh rock surface, I promptly left the trail to investigate. The cliff is actually a channel cut into the rock which ends at a large garage-door.

The rock here is fine grained, dark, and contains small veins, some of which cross-cut one another. The weathered surface shows a bit of foliation to the rock.

The astute observer might notice that along the fence edge there is a bunch of rubble fill which is made up of a coarser grained white rock with elongate black grains showing a foliation.

However, the wait for my flight was quite a long one, and I still wanted to stretch my legs, so I decided to continue my exploration. I continued following the path, turning left at the Statoil station and continuing along the path towards the forest in the distance.

After a short walk I came to a body of water which had an earth-bridge crossing it, leading towards a small hill with rocks exposed at its peak.

What geologist could resist? Closer investigation revealed the source of that white and black rock that is being used as fill everywhere between here and the terminal.

There are plenty of fresh surfaces to admire, sparkling in the sunlight on the side that has served as a quarry.

There are also plenty of examples of how the rock looks 'in place' on the other side of the hill.

It took me only 35 minutes to walk from my gate to the quarry outcrop, and I recommend the adventure to other travellers with time to spare who would rather enjoy fresh air and investigate the local geology than explore the over-priced airport shops.

And to show how far apart the two outcrops are: The view back to terminal from the further outcrop:

And how close the nearer outcrop is to the same control tower:

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