December 20th 2019

Exposing geology in the city


Geologist Gurli Meyer uses a 360-degree camera to survey Trondheim’s past shoreline. After the last glacial period, the shoreline extended far inland. All photos: Gudmund Løvø, NGU.
You will find them starring at the stone facades of old buildings and examining the remains of old shorelines in field and meadows; exploring how the “energy-positive” Power House works and studying the geology along the harbour front. NGU’s geologists are mapping the geological heritage of Trondheim.

"We chose to showcase the city centre of Trondheim to demonstrate what can be found in other parts of Trøndelag. It is important to be aware the geological features of our urban, day-to-day landscape, where we spend most of our time", explains project manager and researcher Tine Larsen Angvik of the Geological Survey of Norway (NGU). 

For this reason, geologists from NGU have set out to collect and investigate potential geological attractions along the sidewalks and paths in the centre of the city. This work will allow them to expand a database for geological heritage and create a digital map with a 360-degree experience, which includes images, information and fun facts. 

Glacial History 

This project is part of the "Geological Resources in Trøndelag" programme, where Trøndelag County and NGU work together to get a better overview of the area’s geological resources. 

"We have chosen well-known sites that are of special value to the community - and for science," explains Gurli Meyer while photographing the shoreline in Bymarka, Trondheim. The shoreline extended much farther inland after the last glaciation, over 175 metres above the current sea level after the ice disappeared and before the land began slowly to rise. 

"When the virtual presentation is complete, we expect that a viewer could use a mobile service that allows them to click on the shoreline and follow a path, from the comfort of their living room or out in the landscape. They can enjoy a 360 degree experience of these geological sites and read about sea level changes, glaciations and land uplift", says Meyer. 

Facades contain fossils  

Other places highlighted include Nidaros Cathedral, an old toll booth, St. Clement’s Church, Krypt Cathedral, Gåsaparken, St Olav's Cathedral and the seafront between Brattøra and Ila. 

Geologist Morten Smelror studies the facade of the Telegram office built in 1939 in Trondheim city centre. The limestone contains a lot of fossils. The base for the statue of the skater Hjalmar "Hjallis" Andersen, is made by Norway's National rock, Larvikite and is seen in the front of the picture.
Geologist Morten Smelror studies the facade of the Telegram office built in 1939 in Trondheim city centre. The limestone contains a lot of fossils. The base for the statue of the skater Hjalmar "Hjallis" Andersen, is made by Norway's National rock, Larvikite. 

"And we must not forget the stone in what was called Telegrapher's new building in Kongens Gate, which currently houses a shopping centre," said researcher Morten Smelror. The lower part of the facade is lined with limestone from Porsgrunn. 

"The limestone contains many well-visible fossils, such as corals, sea lilies, Bryozoa, stromatoporides, and armpits," he says. "425 million years ago, this limestone was part of a coral reef that was located in warm waters a piece south of the equator." 

A capital letter B over many fossils in the limestone that clad the Telegram building from 1939. Here we see both corals and sea lilies.
Many fossils are found in the limestone that clad the Telegram building from 1939. Here we see both corals and sea lilies. 

Approximately 130 million years after the limestone reef was formed, it was hardened by the heat of volcanic activity, remnants of which can be found today at the Oslo Rift. The hardened limestone is suitable for facades. 

Modern heritage 

Situated on the harbour, Trondheim’s new Powerhouse represents a modern form of geological heritage. The world's northernmost energy-positive building captures solar energy using large south-facing panels. The 18,200 M2 office building produces more than twice the amount of electricity that it needs. In an average year, Powerhouse can produce an energy surplus equivalent to 30 single-family houses. 

"There's a lot of things to look at. According to the plan, we will explore beyond Trondheim, too. We are in the process of developing a concept for Bergstaden Røros, and possibly along the salmon river Orkla", informs project leader Tine Larsen Angvik. 

Powerhouse at Trondheim docks where you can see a big solar panel. A truck drives past some train tracks and crates below.
The Powerhouse building situated on Trondheim Harbour is an example of modern geological heritage, where large solar panels generate large amounts of energy. 
Map over Trondheim city centre.
Here are some of the places in Trondheim city centre that are being assessed.