Geology and landform

The West Norwegian Fjords are situated in the parts furthest inland of two fjord systems that penetrate all the way in to the central mountain massifs that divide Eastern Norway and Western Norway.

In the Tertiary, 2.5-55 million years ago, the land rose and formed a high mountain massif parallel to today's coastline. In the time before the ice cap covered the landscape, 2.5 million years ago, rivers dug out deep V-valleys along the weaker zones of the bedrock. During the many ice ages that followed in the Quaternary the ice sheets moving towards the sea reshaped the V-valleys into large U-valleys with very high and steep sides. The areas are young and active landscapes where the natural forces are still at work on shaping the terrain. Avalanche channels on the sides of the valleys and large amounts of rock debris on the bottom of the fjords are testimony to this. The areas are considered very important "laboratories of natural history" because they can provide us with more knowledge about formation of landscapes and the effects of climate change.

The geology and the fjord landscape itself are fundamental to the world heritage site status.