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Plutonic
environments
in Greenland
a potential for
new discoveries
No. 14 - February 2009
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Mineral deposits of plutonic complexes
are among the most promising explo-
ration targets in Greenland. Examples
are the Malmbjerg molybdenum de -
posit, the Skaergaard intrusion gold
and platinum group element deposit
and the Ilimmaasaq zirconium, rare-
earth element (REE), thorium and ura-
nium deposit. They are all three ex -
plored at present and have the poten-
tial to become large mining operations.
However, many plutonic and hypa -
byssal provinces in Greenland are still
significantly under-explored.
In 2002, GEUS published an over -
view of all the intrusive complexes in
the Palaeogene province in East Green -
land (GEUS report, 2002/113). The over -
view includes basic information and
metadata on all the complexes allow-
ing easy access to the basic geological
data and non-confidential exploration
records. In the coming year these data
will be made digitally accessible on
GEUS' website. The Palaeogene prov -
ince in East Green land is only one out
of 23 defined plutonic provinces with-
in the Archaean to Neogene evolution
in Greenland. Basic geological data
and exploration information will be
made digitally accessible in 2010 on all
plutons, sill complexes and dyke
swarms in these provinces. This issue
of `Geology & Ore' deals with the 23
plutonic provinces in summary outline.
Introduction
Intrusive rocks are an integrated part of the
geological evolution of Greenland, and
provinces of plutons and hypabyssal rocks
can be defined in most geological periods.
Table 1 lists all provinces in which the plu-
tons, sills and dykes have preserved clear
intrusive features and spatial integrity. The
provinces are listed according to geological
period, from Palaeogene to Archaean, and
subsequently clockwise along the coast of
Greenland starting in North-East Greenland.
The identification number and the province
are given in columns 1 and 2. Column 3
gives the main rock types and minor com-
ments, column 4 gives examples of the
most important commodities recorded with-
in the province, and column 5 gives a sug-
gestion for the geodynamic environment of
the province. The four maps show the
Palaeo gene, the Mesozoic and Palaeozoic,
the Proterozoic, and the Archaean
provinces.
2
GEOLOGY AND ORE 14 / 2009
Plutonic environments in Greenland
­ a potential for new discoveries
The central part of the Mesozoic Qaqqaarsuk carbonatite complex, southern West Greenland.
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Palaeogene provinces
The Palaeogene provinces in East and West
Greenland (# 1 and # 2, Map 1) are related
to the continental break-up in the North
Atlantic. It is a well-known geodynamic
en vironment, often referred to as a Volcanic
Rifted Margin (VRM). The tholeiitic flood
basalts are among the most voluminous
on Earth. The range in magma types in
plutonic complexes, sill complexes and
dyke swarms is significant, especially in
East Greenland. The compositional range
reflects the impingement of the Proto-
Iceland Plume beneath the Green land
crust, the rapid transition from thick conti-
nental to relatively thin oceanic crust along
the margin of the craton, and a more than
40 million-year duration of magmatism.
The duration of the magmatism, the build-
3
PLUTONIC ENVIRONMENTS IN GREENLAND
The Malmbjerg molybdenum deposit in the Paleaogene Werner Bjerge complex, central East Greenland.
Major plutonic provinces in Greenland
Province
Palaeogene magmatism in East Greenland
Palaeogene magmatism, W Greenland
Caledonian granites, central E Greenland
Devonian granites and felsic volcanics, central E Greenland
Mesozoic alkaline magmatism, SW Greenland
Mesozoic lavas, dykes and plugs; N Greenland

Proterozoic intrusions and volcanics; Ammassalik region,
SE Greenland
Proterozoic Ketilidian intrusions and volcanics, S Greenland
Proterozoic Gardar province, SW Greenland
Palaeoproterozic dykes, SW Greenland
Proterozoic alkaline dykes, SW Greenland
Neoproterozoic ultramafic magmatism, SW Greenland
Proterozoic magmatism in W Greenland
Palaeoproterozoic in Thule district and Inglefield Land,
NW Greenland
Meso- to Neoproterozoic mafic magmatism, NW Greenland
Mesoproterozoic basaltic magmatism; N and NE Greenland
Archaean intrusions, Skjoldungen Alkaline Province,
SE Greenland
Archaean ultramafic, gabbro, and norite intrusions, and the
tonalite, trondhjemite, granodiorite suite, SW Greenland
Archaean granites, SW Greenland
Archaean carbonatite, SW Greenland
Archaean dykes, W Greenland
Archaean intrusions, W Greenland
Archaean intrusions in Thule district, NW Greenland
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
Type of magmatism
Ultramafic, gabbro, diorite, monzonite, granite
quartz porphyry, syenite, and ultramafic alkaline
intrusions Picritic to rhyolitic swarms of dykes and sills
Picritic to basaltic volcanics and dyke swarms; Gabbro and
granophyre intrusion
Granodiorite and granite intrusions
Lavas, ultramafic alkaline and granite intrusions
Carbonatite complexes, ultramafic lamprophyre and
basalt dykes
Peralkaline lavas, dyke swarms, ultramafic plugs
Syn to post kinematic gabbro, norite and granite intrusions
and ultramafic to mafic volcanics and dyke swarms
Volcanics and gabbro, monzonite and rapakivi intrusions
Mafic volcanics and dyke swarms; gabbro, granite, syenite,
peralkaline syenite, and carbonatite intrusions
Mafic dyke swarms
Lamproite dyke swarm
Carbonatite complex, kimberlite, ailikite, and lamprophyre
dykes
Gabbro, diorite, charnokite and granite intrusions;
basalt dyke swarms, lamproite plug
Mafic tOFelsic complexes; late granitoid and gabbro
intrusions
Basaltic sills, dykes and volcanics
Continental flood basalts and sill complexes
Syn to post kinematic gabbro, granite, syenite,
and mafic alkaline intrusions
Ultramafic, gabbro, anorthosite, norite, and tonalite
intrusions; mafic volcanics and dyke swarms
Granite and granodiorite intrusions
Carbonatite intrusion
Mafic dykes
Tonalite, trondhjemite, granodiorite, diorite and anorthosite
intrusions
Anorthosite, mafic tOFelsic, and diorite complexes
Observed commodities
Mo, Au, PGE, Ti, Fe, V, Cu, Ni, P
Native Fe,sulphide, Ni-PGE, Au in
related veins
W, Au, and base metals
W, Au, Ag, base metals, F, and U
Nb, Ta, U, REE and P
None known
Ni-Cu-PGE, bae metals, IOCG, and
ornamental stone
Fe, Ti, V, Ni, Au, and U
REE, Zr, cryolite, Nb, Ta, Th, U, P,
Fe, Ti and V, and possible IOCG
Possible Ni potential
None known
Nb, Ta, REE and diamonds
Cu and possible IOCG
Possible IOCG, Fe
Ti, Fe, Au and base metals
Native Cu
Magnetite-apatite
Ni-Cu-PGE, Cr, olivine, Al (anorthite)
ruby and kornerupine
U and REE
Lazurite
Diamond, Cu-Ni
None known
None known
Geotectonic environment
Volcanic Rifted Margin
Volcanic Rifted Margin
Orogenic environment
Late to post orogenic
Continental to rift environmemt
Related to continental rifting
Orogenic environment
Orogenic environment
Continental rifting
Continental environmemt
Continental environmemt
Continental environmemt
Syn- to post-orogenic
Late kinematic
Late kinematic
Continental platform
Syn-kinematic
Accretional, continental
Accretional, continental
Continental environmemt
Continental environmemt
Late kinematic
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up of elevated temperatures, long resi-
dence times in feeder systems, and the
large volumes of magma facilitated inter-
action with Archaean and Proterozoic
crust. All this may explain the occurrence
of molybdenum-bearing quartz-porphyry
systems and epithermal mineralisation
along the continental margin.
The repeated melting of mantle sources
is suggested to be the reason for elevated
platinum group element (PGE) contents in
tholeiitic lavas, and in turn the formation
of PGE reef structures in layered gabbro
intrusions such as the Skaergaard intrusion.
Magnesium-rich tholeiitic magmas and
extensive sill complexes have prompted the
search for sill-related Ni-Cu-PGE deposits.
Mesozoic and Palaeozoic
provinces
The Mesozoic in Greenland is a compara-
tively stable period with basin formation
and crustal relaxation leading to the for-
mation of dyke swarms and typical conti-
nental magmatism (# 5, map 2). Carbon -
atite complexes and related swarms of
ultramafic lamprophyre dykes characterise
the Mesozoic of southern Greenland. In
the northernmost part of Greenland, in
Peary Land, peralkaline and ultramafic
mag matism (# 6, map 2) is suggested to
be related to the initiation of break-up
and sea-floor spreading of the Polar Basin.
Initiation of continental separation be tween
Greenland and Canada may be reflected
in dyke swarms along the coasts of South-
West Greenland.
The Palaeozoic in Greenland is domi-
nated by the formation of the Caledonian
Fold Belt along the east coast of Greenland.
Two main periods of mainly S-type granite
emplacement (# 3, map 2) one in the Neo -
proterozoic, around 900 Ma ago, and
another in the Palaeozoic, around 450­400
Ma ago, account for most of the magma-
tism related to the Caledonian evolution.
The granite complexes are syn- to late kine -
matic and the geodynamic environment is
orogenic. Minor intermediate tOFelsic vol-
canics formed during the Cale do nian. Vein-
type mineralisation is commonly related to
the Caledonian granites. Tungsten is a com-
mon commodity in these mineralisations.
A younger postkinematic Devonian suite
of granitic intrusions (# 4, map 2) was em -
placed during relaxation and basin forma-
tion in areas affected by the Caledonian.
Significant mineralisations are related to
these intrusions. Wide zones of epithermal
alteration and mineralisation may be related
to even small granitic stocks.
Proterozoic provinces
The Proterozoic Ammassalik Mobile Belt

(# 7, map 3) hosts early, syn-, and late
kinematic gabbroic to granitic plutons. A
prominent suite of synkinematic norite
intrusions is located centrally in the mobile
belt. The norites are emplaced into supra -
crustal successions that were transformed
into anatexites, and host massive Ni-Cu-PGE
mineralisation. The possibility for IOCG (iron
oxide-copper-gold) type mineralisation has
been suggested. Very little is known about
the suites of early kinematic and late kine-
matic mafic tOFelsic intrusions.
4
PLUTONIC ENVIRONMENTS IN GREENLAND
GEOLOGY AND ORE 14 / 2009
The rhythmic layered gabbros of the Palaeogene Skaergaard intrusion, South-East Greenland. The intrusion hosts a large tonnage of gold and platinum
group element mineralisation.
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The Ketilidian orogen (# 8, map 3) in
South Greenland is the continuation of
the Makkovikian in eastern Canada and
together they constitute the Makkovikian­
Ketilidian orogen. In Greenland the south-
ern parts of the orogen are characterised
by large and voluminous syn- to late kine-
matic rapakivi granite sheets and minor
gabbro and granite plutons. The northern
part of the Ketilidian is characterised by
the Julianehåb batholith that records an
extended period of felsic plutonism and de -
formation. Only late plutons have escaped
significant deformation. The Cor dilleran-
type orogen includes supra crustal lava suc-
cessions, both tholeiitic foreland succes-
sions and a classic calc-alkaline within-belt
succession. The Ketilidian areas are com-
monly referred to as a gold province due
to the many gold-bearing vein mineralisa-
tions related to basaltic lithologies, e.g.
the Nalunaq gold mine. The Ketilidian for-
mations are also known for uranium mine -
ralisation. Large rafts of supracrustals en -
trained in rapakivi granites show significant
concentrations of uraninite. The batholith
5
PLUTONIC ENVIRONMENTS IN GREENLAND
View along creek with exposed sheets of carbonatite into mafic host rock of the Tikiusaaq complex. Intense fracturing with rusty coating characterise the
impact zone as seen in the background. Nuuk region, southern West Greenland.
The spectacular face of a Caledonian granite intrusion with rafts of host rocks, central East
Greenland.
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6
GEOLOGY AND ORE 14 / 2009
PLUTONIC ENVIRONMENTS IN GREENLAND
Caledonian monzonite (423 Ma) hosted in
migmatised Proterozoic metasediments and
granites in Renland, central East Greenland. The
rutile-rich monzonite is the wide, dark coloured
band one third up the 1800 m high face.
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granites are in some areas gold-bearing,
and gabbros host sulphide and Fe-oxide
mineralisation.
The continental rift environment in the
Gardar Province (# 9, map 3) in South-West
Greenland is in many respects well-de -
scribed and has seen significant exploration
due to the many highly alkaline intrusions
enriched in a variety of rare metals and
uranium. The uncommon rock types have
for many years attracted significant interest,
from both academics and exploration. An
example is the Ivittuut cryolite mine. The
uranium, the zirconium and the rare-earth
element (REE) potential of the Ilimmaasaq
intrusion, the niobium and tantalum po -
ten tial of the Motzfeldt complex, and the
possibilities for massive iron and/or sulphide
mineralisation in mafic dykes of the province
have all received significant attention.
All of the Archaean core in Greenland
(# 10, map 3) hosts widely spaced Palaeo -
proterozoic basaltic dykes, referred to as
the MD (metadolerite) dykes. The dykes
are widely spaced and emplaced during
relaxation of the craton. Only minor sul-
phide contact mineralisation is observed in
relation to these dykes. An E­W-oriented
swarm of Mesoproterozoic lamproite dykes
in the Sisimiut area (# 11, map 3) attracts
significantly more interest. The lamproitic
magmatism and related metasomatism of
lithospheric mantle lithologies may be a pre-
requisite for the Neo proter o zoic swarms of
diamond-bearing ailikite and kimberlite
dykes in the Sisimiut, Sarfartoq and
Maniit soq regions, and the Sarfartoq car-
bonatite complex (# 12, map 3). Diamonds
recovered from the Garnet Lake property
of the Sarfartoq region are of gem quality
and up to 2.5 carats in size.
A major swarm of Mesoproterozoic
transitional basalt dykes (# 13, map 3) is
hosted in the Proterozoic Rinkian Fold Belt
along the north-west coast of Greenland.
The dyke swarm can be followed more
than 1000 km with individual dykes being
> 100 m wide. Significant volumes of
magma have been emplaced in the crust,
but no significant mineralisation has been
recorded in connection with these dykes.
In the same area occurs the large Prøven
granite (or charnokite).
North-West and North Greenland host
a wide range of Proterozoic plutons and
hypabyssal rocks. The Palaeoproterozoic
plutons (# 14, map 3) include multiphase
complexes of gabbro, diorite, monzonite
and microsyenite, and more uniform gabbro
and granite complexes. Exploration has
been very limited, but the gabbros hold
an iron-oxide potential. All of the Thule
district and the areas to the north host
Mesoproterozoic to Neoproterozoic suites
of basaltic sills and dykes, which in part
can be correlated into northern Canada.
Two types of mineralisation are related to
these hypabyssal rocks. Many of the sills
are rich in ilmenite and are the source for
extensive ilmenite placer sands in the
Thule district. Sulphide mineralisation is
also recorded at the contacts of sills. In
North-East Greenland the Meso protero -
zoic Midsommersø Dolerites exhibit spec-
tacular sections of mafic sills with associat-
ed re-melting of sediments. The magma-
tism is related to the Zig-Zag Dal flood
basalts. Native copper is seen in minerali-
sation related to the sill complex.
Archaean provinces
The Skjoldungen Alkaline Province in South-
East Greenland (# 17, map 4) hosts some
7
PLUTONIC ENVIRONMENTS IN GREENLAND
Femstjernen
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The central part of the Proterozoic
Ammassalik Mobile Belt in South-
East Greenland, showing the east­
west stretch of synkinematic norite
intrusions hosted in anatexites.
Early and late kinematic gabbro
and granite plutons are shown in
blue and red colours, respectively.
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8
GEOLOGY AND ORE 14 / 2009
PLUTONIC ENVIRONMENTS IN GREENLAND
500 km
2
I N L AND I C E




































































































































































































































































Palaeogene basalts
Cretaceous­Palaeogene sediments,
Nuussuaq Basin in West Greenland
and Kangerlussuaq Basin in East Greenland
Carboniferous­Palaeogene sediments,
Wandel Sea Basin in eastern North Greenland
Carboniferous­Cretaceous sediments,
North-East Greenland
Carboniferous­Cretaceous sediments,
Jameson Land Basin in East Greenland
Devonian Basin of North-East Greenland
Shelf
Trough
Caledonian orogenic belt
Meso- to Neoproterozoic sediments and
volcanic rocks
Palaeoproterozoic orogenic belts
Archaean craton
Intrusive complexes: Palaeogene in
East Greenland, Mesoproterozoic
in South Greenland (Gardar Province)
Fault, thrust
Lower Palaeozoic sediments,
North Greenland, Franklinian Basin





1
PALAEOGENE
1
5
I N L AND I C E




































































































































































































































































3
PALAEOZOIC AND
MESOZOIC
4
6
2
9
I N L AND I C E




































































































































































































































































3
PROTEROZOIC
7
16
8
12
11
10
13
14-15
3
I N L AND I C E




































































































































































































































































ARCHAEAN
17
18-20
23
21-22
4
Palaeogene provinces in East and
West Greenland related to
continental break-up.
Mesozoic provinces in North and
West Greenland (5 and 6) related
to rifting, reworked Proterozoic
intrusions in the Caledonian (3),
and post orogenic intrusions in
central East Greenland (4).
Proterozoic orogenic intrusions in
Greenland (3, 7, 8, 13­15),
swarms of mafic dykes and sills
(10, 13, 16), swarms of
lamproite, kimberlite and ailikite
dykes and carbonatite complex
(11, 12), and continental rift
related alkaline province (9).
Archaean: alkaline province (17),
tonalite-trondhjemite and
granodiorite suites and mafic to
ultramafic intrusions (18­19,
22­23), carbonatite complex
(20), and mafic dykes (21).
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twenty syn- to late tectonic intrusions. The
petrographic range is significant and in -
cludes ultramafic, gabbroic, monzonitic,
syenitic, granitic and strongly alkaline in -
trusions. In addition the province includes
significant areas of syenitic gneiss. Apart
from two complexes, the Ruinnæsset gab-
bro complex and the Singertât ijolite com-
plex, most of the Skjoldungen Alkaline
Province has only received little investiga-
tion. The Ruinnæsset gabbro hosts minor
magnetite-apatite veins. The region is
strongly under-explored. Initial investiga-
tions suggest a compositional similarity
9
PLUTONIC ENVIRONMENTS IN GREENLAND
Mining operation in the Ketilidian in
South-West Greenland. The Nalunaq gold
mine was located in a gold-bearing quartz
vein system.
The Gardar Province, South-West Greenland.
One of the most exotic resources in the Gardar
Province is the now exhausted cryolite deposit
at Ivittuut. The cryolite pegmatite body formed
in the roof of a granitic stock.
background image
with the intrusions of the Haliburton-
Bancroft Province in Canada and the in -
trusions of the Seiland Province in north-
ern Norway. The magmatism is tentatively
seen as a compressive regime.
The core of the Archaean craton in
south ern West Greenland is for large parts
composed of orthogneiss. Some of the
late intrusions have preserved many intru-
sive features. The plutons include the clas-
sic suite of ultramafic plugs and ultramafic
to gabbroic, norite and leucogabbro to
anorthosite intrusions, and tonalite, trond-
hjemite and granite plutons of the tonalite-
trondhjemite and granodiorite (TTG) suite.
One small carbonatitic complex has also
been located. The large, mostly deformed
and disrupted, layered ultramafic, gabbroic,
and anorthositic complexes have seams
rich in chromite, and do in several occur-
rences show significantly elevated concen-
trations of platinum group elements (PGE).
The Fiskenæsset anorthosite and the
Amikoq complexes are presently targets for
PGE exploration. Little can be said about
the geodynamic environment, but almost
by definition, a late to postkinematic envi-
ronment has to be suggested.
Further north along the west coast of
Greenland, Archaean intrusions are pre-
served in the Disko Bugt region (# 21 and
# 22, map 4), in a region of preserved
Archaean lithologies sandwiched between
the Nagssugtoqidian orogen to the south
and the Rinkian Mobile Belt to the north.
The Archaean intrusions include anor tho -
site and diorite, in addition to the TTG suite.
The region also hosts Archaean mafic
dykes, one of which recently has been
shown to be diamondiferous. All of these
intrusive rocks are late to postkinematic.
Archaean anorthosite, so common to
large parts of Greenland is also preserved
in the Thule district in North-West Greenland
(# 23, map 4). The region hosts Archaean,
anorthosite, mafic tOFelsic, and dioritic
complexes. They are all late kinematic. No
detailed investigation has been conducted
and no mineralisation has yet been
observed.
Concluding remarks
Greenland hosts intrusions of all ages and
many types of composition in many types
of geodynamic environment. Some regions
have seen significant exploration, whereas
others are only superficially known. Classic
regions such as the Gardar Province (# 9,
map 3) and parts of the Palaeogene Prov -
ince in East Greenland (# 1, map 1) have
been investigated and explored in signifi-
cant detail. The Palaeogene Skaer gaard
intrusion in East Greenland is one of the
most studied mafic intrusions on Earth.
How ever, many other intrusions and com-
plexes, also in these two regions, are only
superficially known and have not been
subject to exploration.
The conclusion is that the majority of
intrusions in Greenland are under-explored.
The web-facility to be established in 2010
is an invitation to explore the economic
potential of plutonic environments in
Green land.
10
GEOLOGY AND ORE 14 / 2009
PLUTONIC ENVIRONMENTS IN GREENLAND
The impressive Midsommersø dolerites emplaced into Proterozoic sediments, North-East Greenland.
background image
11
PLUTONIC ENVIRONMENTS IN GREENLAND
Large tonnages of dunite in Archaean layered
mafic intrusions used for production of olivine
at the Seqi deposit, southern West Greenland.
Evening scenery in Kattertooq fjord in the
Skjoldungen Alkaline Province. The syenitic
gneiss areas are characterised by large screes.
Layered Archaean anorthosite
with layers of chromitite. The
anorthosite and related ultramafic
layered rocks hold a platinum
group element potential.
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12
GEOLOGY AND ORE 14 / 2009
Front cover photograph
Kimberlite dyke (Neoproteozoic age) in
the Archaean basement, southern West
Greenland.
Bureau of Minerals and Petroleum
(BMP)
Government of Greenland
P.O. Box 930
DK-3900 Nuuk
Greenland
Tel: (+299) 34 68 00
Fax: (+299) 32 43 02
E-mail: bmp@gh.gl
Internet: www.bmp.gl
Geological Survey of Denmark
and Greenland (GEUS)
Øster Voldgade 10
DK-1350 Copenhagen K
Denmark
Tel: (+45) 38 14 20 00
Fax: (+45) 38 14 20 50
E-mail: geus@geus.dk
Internet: www.geus.dk
Author
Troels F. D. Nielsen, GEUS
Editor
Karsten Secher, GEUS
Graphic Production
Carsten E. Thuesen, GEUS
Photographs
GEUS unless otherwise stated
Printed
February 2009 © GEUS
Printers
Schultz Grafisk
ISSN
1602-818x
The layered kakortokites of the Ilimaussaq intru-
sion, Gardar province. The kakortokites are

zircomium-rich cumulates.
The face of Gabbrofjeld (1200 m )in the
Palaeogene Skaergaard intrusion, South-East
Greenland. The three leucocratic layers of the
Triple Group can be seen below the top of
Gabbrofjeld. The gold and PGE mineralisation is
located in the lower part of the Triple Group.
Key literature
Escher, A. & Watt , W. S. 1976: Geology of
Greenland. Copenhagen: Geological Survey of
Greenland. 603 pp.
Henriksen, N. 2008: Geological history of Green -
land. Copenhagen: Geological Survey of Green -
land. 272 pp.
Nielsen, T. F. D. 2002: Palaeogene intrusions and
magmatic complexes in East Greenland, 66 to
75°N., Rapport Danmarks og Grønlands Geologiske
Undersøgelse 2002/113 , 249 pp.


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Last modified: January 26, 2009
MINEX is published by GEUS in co-operation with Bureau of Minerals and Petroleum, Greenland Government



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