My second trip to Finland had to be in winter. Well, not winter absolutely – but the lakes still had to be frozen if we were to have any chance of drilling.

I’m pretty certain there’s a lake out there…

Why did we want to drill in a lake?  I hear you ask…

To explain:  We were looking for kimberlite pipes – the host rock for diamonds.  A typical kimberlite intrusion looks like an oversized carrot in the ground.  It is the result of super-duper, hot molten lava from the mantle that has punched its way upwards through the Earth’s crust.  Kimberlite weathers more readily than other rock-types, such as granite, so the resulting surface topography can often be visible as a circular depression.  In watery places, like Finland, these depressions are often lakes.  I’m sure you will agree that it isn’t particularly easy to drill in the middle of a lake.  Luckily for us, the winter had nicely frozen a good number of perfectly circular lakes.

Up near the Arctic Circle – the lakes and rivers were still frozen in April-early May, but the weather was not nearly so cold as mid-winter.

Arctic Circle signpost at the “Real” Santa Land in Rovaniemi

Rudolph et al. Naturally, the second I got any closer and they moved off…

A Finnish totem pole of signposts

Mind you, in saying that – I distinctly remember a few nights registering -35C on the thermometer – and there were a couple of late afternoons, walking back from the sauna to the chalet, where icicles formed on my hair! – It was only a 100m stroll!!

Walking waist-high in the snow

Buried chalets

Photography was somewhat limited to trees and snow – with weak and watery sunlight.  The sun was probably already setting around lunch-time 😉

Mid-day long shadows

Following footsteps

Fading light

You can tell I was quite happy taking photos of trees.  There were a couple of stand-outs – curious, natural sculptures:

Boughing to pressure

Stark sculpture

And there were plenty of forest shots, too:

On a clear day

Under snow

Whilst it snowed

in the afternoon/evening light

It was also on this trip that I saw the most fantastic display of the Northern Lights.  Alas, I took no photographs to bear witness to my testimony.  It was at 3am, on return from visiting a drill-rig.  Yes, we were drilling 24 hours a day, which meant that we had to be available to check the progress at any given moment – 24 hours a day.  I’m not complaining though, had it not been for being an “on-call Geologist” – I might never have seen the Northern Lights at all!

Skidoos for hire – the frozen rivers make for some good fun

Sunset over Rovaniemi

Wintry sunset

Near Rovaniemi, Finland – April/May 1996