A Symphony of Scenic Beauty – Avannaarsua: Greenland’s Farthest North

The book is a tribute to the world’s northernmost scenery: spectacular landscapes and ice masses with intervening seascapes. Through inspiring photographs with short text annotations, the reader is guided through this vast and unforgiving wilderness enriching both eyes and soul.

Authors: Peter R. Dawes and Jakob Lautrup

  • 392 pages of outstanding scenery and nature with brief explanations.
  • Over 300 single-page to panoramic scenes.
  • 65 animal and plant images.
  • 35 pages of easily read explanatory.
  • Place-name map.
  • Glossary.

Furhter description

Greenland´s Farthest North – in Greenlandic, Avannaarsua, is one of the last wildernesses on Earth. North of latitude 78 degrees and larger than Sweden, this vast fjord and mountainous region is bordered by the immense Inland Ice on one side and the Arctic Ocean with its drifting ice on the other. Situated beyond indigenous habitation, few people have witnessed its magnificent scenery.

This pictorial book takes the reader on a journey through Avannaarsua’s diversified geology and landscapes and tells how the dramatic scenery was formed and sculptured by wind, water, ice and frost. It is a journey on which the reader will experience the world´s northernmost mountains and plateaux, canyons and lakes, ice caps and glaciers, stony deserts and sand dunes, dusty plains and verdant valleys, all interlaced with ice-choked fjords fringed by towering cliffs. And as a bonus, the hardy animals and plants are presented in their natural habitats.

The authors have been inspired by music in their portrait of Avannaarsua leading to a symphonic composition with five interlocking movements and 16 themes. They have searched the musical annals to discover the terms that best fit the melodramas epitomised by the ever-changing landscapes and seascapes.

The book is aimed at those who are interested in geology, natural history and pristine scenery, as well as all those who cannot get enough of the unique beauty of the Arctic’s snow- and ice-clad nature. The images of the High Arctic landscapes presented in this book should provide long-lasting enlightenment.

The book's authors are experienced Greenland explorers:

Geologist Peter R. Dawes – emeritus research scientist at GEUS – has been working with Greenland geology for more than 50 years. Educated at the universities of Exeter (UK) and Copenhagen, Peter first visited Greenland with GEUS in 1961 and, for many years, he was responsible for the geological exploration of northern Greenland. Of his 22 Greenland summers, the longest stint was a 4-month season with sledge, skis and pulka in Johannes V. Jensen Land, northern Peary Land.

Jakob Lautrup, an emeritus photographer at GEUS, has been employed by the University of Copenhagen and GEUS since 1977. With cameras and logistical know-how, Jakob has participated in 24 expeditions that have taken him to many parts of Greenland. His photographs from these summer trips have been widely used in scientific publications and books and they can be admired in corridors and meeting rooms of public and research institutions in Denmark and abroad.


The physical world of Avannaarsua

  • Location and habitation
  • Celebrated landforms, changing landscape, Fata Morgana and transient islands
  • The Arctic year: seasonal contrasts
  • Sounds of the Arctic
  • Snow, ice, climate and a polar desert
  • Vegetation: a splash of colour
  • Landscapes and seascapes: essential ingredients
  • Bedrock and surficial deposits
  • Regional geology and landscape
  • Landforms, landscapes, erosion, lithology, paleovalleys, peneplains and hiatuses
  • Rock detritus: shape, size and transport
  • Geological time and the life of a zircon crystal
  • Inland Ice, ice caps, glaciers, sea ice, floating glaciers and ice shelves
  • Seaevel changes and recent landforms

Scenes of sheer beauty

Bedrock and its bold landscapes

  • Theme 1. Ancient rocks and a peneplain
  • Theme 2. Homoclinal rocks and plateaux
  • Theme 3. Folded rocks and mountains

Surficial deposits and subdued landscapes

  • Theme 1. Lowlands
  • Theme 2. Badlands
  • Theme 3. Islands on the move
  • Theme 4. The merciless wind
  • Theme 5. Frost action

Ices of the land

  • Theme 1. The ultimate expression: glacial landscape
  • Theme 2. The Inland Ice
  • Theme 3. Ice caps and ice fields
  • Theme 4. Rivers of ice
  • Theme 5. The Great Glacier of Humboldt

Waters of the land

  • Theme 1. Rivers: landforms and deposits
  • Theme 2. Lakes and ponds
  • Theme 3. Iceammed lake of 1984

The sea and its ice

The concluding passages

  • Acknowledging the road to 'the Symphony'
  • The workplace in Greenland
  • The production team
  • Photo credits, thanks and technical data
  • About the composer and scenographer
  • Glossary
  • Further reading and listening

Book Cover

Order the book

A SYMPHONY OF SCENIC BEAUTY can be ordered by contacting:

GEUS Booksale
Mail: bogsalg@geus.dk

Price: DKK 200 (ex. VAT and postage)

Additional information

Number of pages: 392 pages
Size: 23,2 x 30 cm
Printed: 12. december 2017
ISBN: 978-87-7871-473-2

View a slideshow with a small selection of photographs from the book (YouTube video)


Click on the photos to enlarge them

Sample page

Pages 202-203.

Sample page

Pages 160-161.

Sample page

Pages 118-119.

Sample page

Pages 204-205. 

Sample page

Pages 278-279. 

Sample page

Pages 88-89.