Glacial Rock Flour

Delta of glacially milled rock flour on the Greenlandic West Coast. Photo: Minik T. Rosing

Greenland has an urgent need for business development and many countries in the tropics desperately need to increase their agricultural production. Can mud benefit the Greenlandic economy and simultaneously solve global problems? 

In a cross disciplinary research project we wish to test if Greenlandic mud - glacial rock flour - can be used to revitalize depleted and exhausted soils as well as identify any potential negative effects of the exhumation, transportation or general use of the mud.

The project is a collaboration between The Natural History Museum of Denmark, the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences at the University of Copenhagen, The University of Greenland, The National Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland and the logistics company Usisaat in Nuuk. In order to examine the practical use of the mud in the tropics we are working with the agricultural research institute of Soil Sciences at the University of Sao Paolo.

Sampling rock flour in the Nuuk Fjord. Photo: Kisser Thorsøe, GEUS Nuuk

The project is currently divided into 5 work packages: 

Work package 1: Plants and Soil

The main objective of the workpackage is to test the effect of glacial rock flour on fertility improvement of depleted tropical soils. This will be done through field experiments on representative farmland in Brazil and through potting experiments in Denmark and Brazil.

The work package is headed by Professor Andreas de Neergaard. 

Work package 2: Material characteristics

The main objective of this workpackage is to provide a full and comprehensive characterization of the glacial rock flour by adressing the questions of the mineralogical and geochemical composition of the material and by creating an overview of the location, size and range in composition of the deposits.

The work package is headed by professor Minik Rosing. 

Work package 3: Impact studies 

The objectives of this workpackage is to assess potential environmental, socioeconomic and health impacts of exploiting glacial rock flour. 

The work package is headed by professor Minik Rosing. 

Work package 4: Product development and logistics 

The main objective of this workpackage is to turn the glacial rock flour into a commercially marketable resource if the results from the workpackages 1-3 are positive.

The work package is headed by Director of Usisaat Hans Gerstrøm.

Work package 5: Outreach and communication >

All the information available from The Glacial Rock Flour Project will be passed on by WP5. The primary objective of this work package is for the project to inform and interact with the public, local and other stakeholders and students. 

The work package is headed by professor Minik Rosing.