During our stay at the Finish Lapland we paid a visit to Viiankiaapa, a 65.95 km2 EU Natura 2000 and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) special protected area. Viiankiaapa’s ecosystem is a bog, or wetland waterlogged only by direct rainfall. A total of 90 species of birds can be found in the area, 21 of which are endangered, as well as plants, mammals, mosses, and liverworts.

Location of the Viiankiaapa reserve in Finland. Source: www.sodankyla.fi

Viiankiaapa constitutes part of the research area where we are currently testing non-invasive exploration technologies, such as the airborne magnetic data we finished acquiring, or the airborne EM survey that will shortly start. Underground, at depths greater than 350 m, a Cu-Ni-PGE sulfide deposit hosted by an olivine cumulate was discovered in 2009 and is estimated to be the discovery of a generation.

Panoramic view of the trail and Viiankiaapa’s landscape. Photo credit: Joan Marie Blanco.

Our partners, Jouni and Jukka-Pekka, both from Oulu Mining School met us there, accompanied by a joyful canine companion named Tinka. We took the 7.1 km trail across swamps in the nature reserve. Every certain number of meters there were signs with information about the species you could spot, as well as endangered plants and birds.

The group (and photographer) during our walk through the trail. From left to right: Joan Marie, Jouni, Leila, Jukka-Pekka, and Tinka. Photo credit: Moritz Kirsch.

There were also several wild berries, such as blackberries and cloudberries. It was my first time seeing and trying a cloudberry, it tasted creamy and unlike any berry I had before. During our walk we were able to spot Kestrels, Common Cranes, Eurasian Three-toed Woodpeckers, Black-throated Loons, Common Redpolls, Great Grey Shrikes, and Eurasian Willow Tits.

Wild cloudberry growing in the Viiankiaapa’s natural reserve. Photo credit: Moritz Kirsch.


Eurasian three-toed woodpecker spotted during our walk. Photo credit: Moritz Kirsch.

Half way into our walk, Jukka-Pekka and Jouni set up the fire and we grilled sausages while chatting. During our visit they were very open and eager to show us their country, traditions and stories, making our stay very pleasant. Through them, we also learned about the importance of sauna in Finland. After that it was not surprising to find that there are around 2 million saunas for a population of 5.3 million people.

Towards the end of the trail, we stopped at the observation deck and I was able to leave my name in the guest book. It felt pretty special since I never thought I’d ever be as far north as Sodankylä.

Viiankiaapa sign at the observation tower and box where the guestbook is kept. Photo credit: Joan Marie Blanco.

We have learned through our local partners and the people from Sodankylä how important Viiankiaapa is for them, and how proud they feel about the uniqueness of this area. That only gives us more motivation to succeed at testing non-invasive and environmentally friendly exploration technologies and its future implementation.

Until soon,

Joan Marie.

This post was written by Geophysicist Dr. Joan Marie Blanco who is working at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) for the INFACT project.

The INFACT Campaign 2018 posts series will be featuring the development of the flight campaign in the 3 reference sites (Finland, Germany and Spain) in summer 2018. The posts will describe the major achievements of the tests in a rather personal approach.

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