Route at the Mols laboratory

The ice age route at the Molslaboratory show the classic traces of the ice age that can still be seen in the Danish landscape. The tour offers among others things kettle holes, melt-water tunnels, and former seabed. Remember the wellingtons on rainy days. Use latitude (B) and longitude (L) to find the locations – they can be inserted into, for example, Google Maps.

Littorinaskrænten (Point A)

You are now at the bottom of the ocean – or you would have been approximately 9,000 years ago. When the ice after the lastest ice age, Weichselian, pulled back, it caused a rise in the sea-level. The rise in sea-level was that big that the two distinct slopes on left and (perhaps most clearly) to the right of Strandkærvej made up the former seashore. After the ice disappeared 9,000 years ago, the dry land started to rise because the ice no longer pressed down on the underground. During the 9,000 years, the dry land is elevated so much that the coastline today is further out than the ice age ocean.

The ocean after the ice age is called stone age ocean or the Littorina Sea because there are found sea snails of the genus Littorina. Their relatives also exists today. It is the snail that is most commonly found by the Danish shores – common periwinkle

B: 56.22281° L: 10.58464°

Smeltevandsslugt (Point B)

Imagine that further up the road is an ice front – not just an ice block but an entire front that fills the whole horizon. An ice front, which is several hundred meters tall and has been there for several thousand years. When it starts to get warmer in the summer, the ice melts. When a lot of ice melts, it turns into water – a lot of water.

All of that water will move towards the oceans, and since the subsoil of Mols is mostly sand, deep ravines were cut in the landscape. This is where you are located right now – on the bottom of a melt-water ravine. Notice the high hills on both sides of the road – the water reached all the way out there.

Later, humans have build a road at the bottom of the melt-water ravine. The bottom was already level, and it was natural to put the road here.

B: 56.22449° L: 10.58006°

Branddammen (Point C)

There is not a lot of water in Mols Bjerge. This is a result of the subsoil being mostly sand, and sand can not contain the water. BUT right here there is a bit of clay in the soil, and therefore there can be a small lake between two farms. The clay is also the reason why the two old farms, Øvre- and Nedre Strandkær, still stand hundred of years after they were built. If they were built on a sandy ground, they would be gone now, like most other old buildings in Mols Bjerge, because the sand is too unstable to build larger buildings on.

B: 56.227033° L: 10.573829°

Kettle hole (Point D)

At Salissig we have a so-called “kettle hole”

Dead-ice is a lump of ice that has fallen of the large mass of ice, and then the lump of ice is just melting. Since the lumps of ice could be very big – several hundred meters on each side (some were of course smaller) – it could take a long time before they had completely melted away. It was extra slow at Mols, because of the amounts of sand and gravel, which laid on top of the ice like an isolating duvet. It took many years for some of the lumps of ice to melt – even thousands of years! While they melted, the gravel on top sagged and formed a hole in the landscape. Often there was still a bit of freshwater left from the ice, from the groundwater, and from the rainwater.

Kettle holes often have water at the bottom in the shape of a bog or a lake. These lakes differ from typical lakes because there is no supply of water from streams, brooks, or springs. For the same reason, the water is acidic, it has a high pH value, which means that the plants and animals that live in the kettle hole are highly specialised for this particular environment. If we drain the kettle holes and make them into farmland, we lose the species that are attached to this habitat.

B: 56.23181° L: 10.57573° (Seen from above)

B: 56.231° L: 10.57667° (The kettle hole)

Sandvejen (Point E)

Here you can clearly see what Mols i made of – sand. Sand everywhere. The sand is  delivered by the glaciers – not just i the latest ice age but also from the previous six. The last ice age is the one that we call Weichselian Ice Age. It began approximately 1000,000 years ago and lasted until approximately 10,000 years ago. The large glaciers moved the sand around and formed the hills that we see in the landscape today.

The sand has a great meaning for the plant- and wildlife that exist in Mols Bjerge. The sand can not contain water and nutrients – it whizzes right through. And therefore there is a majority of life that is adapted to a hardy life without much nutrition. At the same time the sand quickly becomes warm in the spring. This provides good conditions for a large amount of reptiles that love the warm sandy surfaces without a lot of vegetation.

B: 56.22967° L: 10.5842°

Trindehaven (Point F)

Now you have reached all the way down to the seabed again. This place is the last place that has been farmed in the Mols Laboratory’s area. There are several reasons for it. It is of course easier to cultivate a flat area instead of a hilly one. Besides all the water is gathered down here, below the hill. This means a lot when you want to grow crops in the sandy soil. You need all the water you can get.

B: 56.22928° L: 10.59099°

Untouched forest (Point G)

Man came to Denmark after the last ice age. There are many indications that they arrived to Mols at an early stage, since the area is located in a naturally and shielded bay. Trees grew quickly after the ice age – as early as 9,300 BC – and they continued to spread over the next thousand years. In the Atlantic period approximately 6,800 BC, the forest was as dense af you can see here. Impassible, filled with water and downed trees. It was not easy to move through the forest. Therefore the humans often chose to settle along the shorelines. If you wanted to cultivate the land, you would have to clear a part of the forest. The cultivation of the land began about 4,000 BC in the Subboreal period.

B: 56.22928° L: 10.59099°

Map-overview of the route

The Mols laboratory

The Mols laboratory is located in scenic surroundings in the middle of Nationalpark Mols Bjerge. The building belongs to Naturhistorisk Museum in Aarhus.

The Mols laboratory offer:
• Nature guidance
• Field-based learning
• Course facilities and accomodation
• Scenic surroundings and routes

Share your ice age experience

A big thank you to…

A big thank you to the Mols Laboratory and to nature guide Marianne Graversen, who has prepared the ice age route in Mols laboratory’s area to the benefit of us all.