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From Nansen to the Polar Academy: The Past, Present and Future of Greenland Exploration from Fife

21 January 2020

The ancient whaling tradition in the East of Scotland meant that explorers such as Shackleton looked to our region for expertise and inspiration. Fridtjof Nansen was the first person to cross the Greenland Ice Cap and he was Rector of St Andrews University in 1926. In his inaugural speech, he told the people of Fife that “We all have a Land of Beyond to seek in our life… Rooted deep in the nature of every one of us is the spirit of adventure, the call of the wild”. His challenge to Fife was taken up by future generations. The University established a long tradition of Arctic Exploration. Expeditions to Greenland took place in the 1930s and 1950s and members of the University worked for the Greenland Geological Survey to map some of the remotest parts of our Planet. This continues to the present day – Greenland is an important natural laboratory for geological studies, without soil to obscure the rocks and with glaciers carving three-dimensional slices through geological structures. Greenland expeditions have most recently been funded by the EU scientific consortium HiTech AlkCarb (which uses the rocks of Greenland to understand how to explore for the rare metals found in mobile phones) and the Mining Institute of Scotland Trust, which supports Greenland expeditions to allow Scottish graduates to hone their exploration skills. Those who have taken part in the expeditions have been transformed and enhanced by their experience. The sessions will end with informal question and answer sessions with all the participants and a display of some of the rare minerals found in Greenland.

Location:

Thursday 23rd January 2020 at 7.15 pm in the Irvine Lecture Theatre, Irvine Building, North Street, St Andrews. The talks will last approximately one hour, followed by refreshments and an opportunity to talk to those who have worked in Greenland. We will also display some of the unique rocks found in Greenland.

Who should come?

Anyone with an interest in the outdoors, the Arctic and what it can teach us. It is also an opportunity to find out work about The Polar Academy, the University and how geological research in Arctic environments is allowing us to address the challenges of green technologies.