[Model Answer QP2023 GS1] How are the fjords formed? Why do they constitute some of the most picturesque areas of the world?


Fjords are deep, narrow, and elongated sea or lake inlets, flanked on either side by tall mountains or cliffs. They are formed through a combination of glacial activity and subsequent flooding by the sea.

Mechanism of Formation of Fjords:

1. Glacial Start: In colder periods like the Ice Ages, glaciers form and expand.

2. Glacial Erosion: As these glaciers move towards the sea, they erode the underlying terrain. The sheer weight and movement of the glacier carve out deep valleys.

3. U-shaped Valleys: Unlike rivers that carve V-shaped valleys, glaciers carve U-shaped valleys, which are broader and have steep sides. These characteristic shapes are indicative of glacial activity.

4. Retreat of Glaciers: With climatic changes, glaciers begin to melt and retreat. The valleys, deepened and widened by glacial activity, are then inundated by the sea.

5. Rise in Sea Level: The global rise in sea levels, especially at the end of the last ice age, facilitated the flooding of these valleys. Formation of Fjords: The combination of the deep valleys and the rising sea levels results in the formation of fjords.

Picturesque Nature of Fjords:

1. Dramatic Topography: The stark contrast between the steep mountain cliffs and the calm, deep waters of the fjord creates a visually stunning landscape.

2. Reflections: On calm days, the still waters of the fjord reflect the surrounding cliffs and mountains, doubling the visual treat.

3. Interplay of Light: In many fjords, especially those in the higher latitudes like Norway, the angle of sunlight creates mesmerizing patterns of light and shadow on the water and the surrounding mountains.

4. Biodiversity: The unique conditions in fjords support a rich marine ecosystem. This biodiversity, including colonies of seals and various seabird species, adds to the allure.

5. Seasonal Variations: Fjords offer different sceneries across seasons. In winter, the surrounding cliffs might be snow-capped, while in summer, waterfalls originating from melting snow can be seen cascading down the cliffs.

6. Cultural Elements: Many fjords, especially in countries like Norway, have small settlements and historic farms along their shores, adding a human element to the natural beauty. Traditional architecture and cultural landmarks, juxtaposed against the grandeur of the natural landscape, create a harmonious blend.


Fjords, stand as profound symbols of the intricate interplay between glacial processes and subsequent marine inundation.

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