“Fjord” is a funny word, isn’t it? You pronounce the “j” like a “y,” so you say “fyord.” It’s even fun to say in a tongue twister: Fifty-five fishermen fished for fish for forty-four days in the fjord!
But what exactly is a fjord? It sort of sounds like a European version of a Ford automobile, doesn’t it? Well, it’s not an automobile, but you can find fjords in Europe.
A fjord is a long, narrow waterway that’s surrounded by steep cliffs on each side. Fjords were carved out of valleys long, long ago by glaciers.
When glaciers covered the Earth, they would often cut long, U-shaped valleys out of the bedrock in certain areas. As the glacier moved through these areas, glacial melting would eventually occur, leaving a long, narrow waterway in its path.
Because of the steep cutting action of the glaciers, most fjords are deeper than nearby seas. For example, Sognefjord — a fjord in Norway — plunges over 4,000 feet below sea level.
As glaciers formed fjords, they would often leave deposits behind that would create a rise at the mouth of the fjord. This rise can cause some fjords to have very strong currents or even saltwater rapids.
Another dangerous feature found near some fjords is the presence of thousands of small, rocky island blocks. These areas are called skerries and they can be treacherous for ships to navigate.
Because they were formed by glaciers, fjords tend to be located in mountainous areas close to large bodies of water. For example, Norway is famous for its fjords. You can also find fjords along the west coast of Europe, Alaska, Canada, Greenland, New Zealand and Chile.
Recently, scientists have discovered coral reefs at the bottom of many fjords in Norway. They’re not sure what processes led to the formation of these coral reefs. However, they do think that the marine life that exists in these coral reefs might explain why the Norwegian coastline is such a good place to fish.
Two of the most extreme fjords in the world can be found in Greenland and Antarctica. Scoresby Sund in Greenland is the longest fjord in the world, measuring 217 miles long! Skelton Inlet in Antarctica is the deepest fjord in the world at 6,342 feet deep!