Faroe Islands

Føroyar - Færøerne - Faroes

The Faroe Islands are a North Atlantic archipelago of 18 major islands and a total of 779 islands, islets, and skerries, located 320km north-northwest of Scotland, halfway between Norway and Iceland. They are an autonomous territory within the Kingdom of Denmark, but are self-governing since 1948. As they have their own internet first level domain, their own flag and their own language Faroese, we decided to list them separately from denmark. The islands have a total area of about 1,400km of rugged volcanic islands with subpolar oceanic climate (Cfc).

The Faroe Islands are giant slices of tiered basalt, tilted to one side. They were formed by volcanic eruptions some 55 million years ago, in early Eocene, which lasted a few million years. They are a result of the divergent plate rim between Europe and America, or in other word the spreading of the Atlantic ocean. At this time Faroer was still close to the mid ocean ridge where today Iceland is located, and so was Greenland. The basalts from the ridge formed a huge basalt plateau which covered almost the entire region. The same basalts can be found in the south-eastern part of Greenland. But the ongoing spreading separated the two sides and they moved apart for 50 Million years, while Iceland was formed only 3 Million years ago.

Each basalt lava flow you identify today, represents one volcanic eruption during that time period. Some eruptions produced voluminous sheet flows, each several tens of meters thick, covering hundreds of square kilometres. Others formed compound lava flows, each composed of several thin basalt layers. But there were also long time periods between the eruptive events, with rich vegetation in a sub-tropic climate. Quite impressive is a layer of coal between two lava flows, which was formed during a long period between two eruptions. A coal mine is still active in the mountain of Prestfjall, south of the village of Hvalba.

While Faroe was once close to the Mid Atlantic Ridge, the continuous widening produced new crust between Faroer and Iceland. As a result volcanism stopped, there is no dormant volcanism on Faroe, if you guessed. Also the Faroe-Rockall Plateau has subsided beneath the sea level, only with a few islands remaining. Erosive forces have sculpted the landscape to the present-day islands.

Vertical cliff coasts and sea stacks are abundant, the result of the erosion of the basalt along cracks. The only caves known from the islands are sea caves, however, the locals also name vast cracks in the rocks caves, so you must be carefull if cave tours actually show caves.