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Ivigtut Cryolite deposit, Ivittuut (Ivigtut), Arsuk Fjord, Sermersooq, Greenland, Denmark

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Latitude & Longitude (WGS84): 61° 12' 21'' North , 48° 10' 32'' West
Latitude & Longitude (decimal): 61.20611,-48.17556
GeoHash:G#: ffvspwpxk
Locality type:Deposit
Köppen climate type:ET : Tundra
Name(s) in local language(s):Ivittuut, Arsuk Firth, Kommuneqarfik Sermersooq, Kalaallit Nunaat

Ivigtut was the world's only mine for cryolite. Cryolite was used [as early as the nineteenth century] as a flux for processing bauxite in aluminum production and before that to produce opaline glass. The mine closed several times in the 1960s, 1970s & 1980s but production continued - dumps were dug out, the mine reopened to excavate low-grade ore and finally the pier, made from 'waste rock', was removed and processed.

Most of the interesting sulphides are known from small spots in polished ore sections (galena is a good indicator mineral!). In cryolite only pyrite, galena, sphalerite and chalcopyrite are common. Molybdenite chiefly occurs in the host rock, enclosing the cryolite ore body.

Ivigtut is a spectacular source of rare minerals, but optimistic erroneous identifications abound. Cryolite crystals are for all practical purposes rarely available - they were collected a long time ago and everybody wants them. Virtually all specimens came from two large pockets. By far most of the 'Cryolite crystals' I see are thomsenolite, pachnolite, ralstonite or something similar, subject to optimistic interpretation. Incidentally, thomsenolite does occur as parallel grown very large pseudo-cubic crystals and/or crystals with strong basal cleavage that make good cryolite imitations!

Particularly European dealers in the 1980s offered prosopite crystals, more often than not accompanied by assurances they had been 'x-rayed' and were thus correctly identified. Bogus! Most - most, but not all! - of these are microscopic crystals of ralstonite, coating the interior of druses in massive blue prosopite. Obviously, if you remove the interior of a druse with a dental drill, and look for prosopite on your X-ray machine, you are going to find ... prosopite! This comes from the matrix, not the crystals. Prosopite crystals are quite rare, invariably 'flattened six-sided' (say, like a double arrowhead), whereas ralstonite is cubic (and in this association, usually octahedral).

[Many uninformed people claim Ivigtut as the locality for their specimens merely because it is the most famous locality there.] Villiaumite ... when I see this, I usually just walk away from the perpetrator. villiaumite is sodium fluoride, comes from Greenland, and thus must be from Ivigtut 'where all the fluorides come from.' I doubt anybody would accept a claim of benitoite [should be from Gem Mine, San Benito Co., California] as coming from the Stewart Mine near Pala, San Diego Co. [lithium pegmatite with tourmaline] merely because both produce interesting silicates? In Greenland, villiaumite occurs exclusively at Kvanefjeld in the Ilimaussaq alkaline intrusion near Narssaq ... a bit further than San Diego Co. is from San Benito Co.

(Comments by Claus Hedegaard, 8. 12. 2007)

Mineral List


Acuminite (TL)




Arcubisite (TL)







Bøggildite (TL)

Bøgvadite (TL)







Cerussite ?





'Chlorite Group'





Cryolite (TL)

Cryolithionite (TL)






Eskimoite (TL)





Gearksutite (TL)



Gustavite (TL)






Hydrokenoralstonite (TL)


Jarlite (TL)

var: Meta-jarlite

Jørgensenite (TL)














Pachnolite (TL)














Stenonite (TL)


Thomsenolite (TL)







Valleriite ?

Vikingite (TL)


Weberite (TL)






89 valid minerals. 17 (TL) - type locality of valid minerals.

Regional Geology

This geological map and associated information on rock units at or nearby to the coordinates given for this locality is based on relatively small scale geological maps provided by various national Geological Surveys. This does not necessarily represent the complete geology at this locality but it gives a background for the region in which it is found.

Click on geological units on the map for more information. Click here to view full-screen map on Macrostrat.org

Neoarchean - Mesoarchean
2500 - 3200 Ma

ID: 644473
unclassified; Metamorphic: undivided

Age: Archean (2500 - 3200 Ma)

Description: Greenland, North Atlantic Craton (Greenland and Canada)

Comments: Craton and massif; Escher & Pulvertaft, 1995; Hamann et al., 2005; Jepsen, unpublished revisions, 2007-08

Lithology: Gneiss, migmatite; reworked amphibolite and granulite facies rocks

Reference: J.C. Harrison, M.R. St-Onge, O.V. Petrov, S.I. Strelnikov, B.G. Lopatin, F.H. Wilson, S. Tella, D. Paul, T. Lynds, S.P. Shokalsky, C.K. Hults, S. Bergman, H.F. Jepsen, and A. Solli. Geological map of the Arctic. doi:10.4095/287868. Geological Survey of Canada Map 2159A. [2]

2500 - 4000 Ma

ID: 3130552
Archean gneiss

Age: Archean (2500 - 4000 Ma)

Description: medium grade metamorphic

Lithology: Gneiss

Reference: Asch, K. The 1:5M International Geological Map of Europe and Adjacent Areas: Development and Implementation of a GIS-enabled Concept. Geologisches Jahrbuch, SA 3. [147]

Neoarchean - Mesoarchean
2500 - 3200 Ma

ID: 3189042
Archean crystalline metamorphic rocks

Age: Archean (2500 - 3200 Ma)

Comments: Archaean Block Of Greenland

Lithology: Granitoid gneiss; amphibolite grade orthogneiss

Reference: Chorlton, L.B. Generalized geology of the world: bedrock domains and major faults in GIS format: a small-scale world geology map with an extended geological attribute database. doi: 10.4095/223767. Geological Survey of Canada, Open File 5529. [154]

Data and map coding provided by Macrostrat.org, used under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License

This page contains all mineral locality references listed on mindat.org. This does not claim to be a complete list. If you know of more minerals from this site, please register so you can add to our database. This locality information is for reference purposes only. You should never attempt to visit any sites listed in mindat.org without first ensuring that you have the permission of the land and/or mineral rights holders for access and that you are aware of all safety precautions necessary.


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d’Andrada, J.B. (1800) Der eigenschaften und kennzeichen einiger neuen fossilien aus Schweden und Norwegen nebst einigen chemischen bemerkungen ueber dieselben. Allgemeines Journal der Chemie: 4: 28-39. [description of cryolite]
Abildgaard, P.C. (1801) Om norske Titanertser og om en nye Steenart fra Grønland, som bestaar af Flusspatsyre og Alunjord. Videnskabernes Selskabs Skrifter: 3(1.1): 306-316.
Klaproth, M.H. (1802) Untersuchung des Kryoliths, Beiträge zur chemischen Kenntniss der Mineralkörper, Dritter Band, Rottmann Berlin: 207-214.
Hagemann, G. (1866) On some minerals associated with the Cryolite in Greenland. The American Journal of Science and Art, 2nd series: 42(124): 93-94.
Krenner, J.A. (1883) Die grönlandischen Minerale der Kryolithgruppe. Mathematisch-Naturwissenschafliche Berichte, Ungarn: 1: 1-24.
Nordenshiöld, A.E. (1886) Mineralogiska bidrag. 10. Arksutit från Ivigtut i Grönland. Geologiska Föreningens i Stockholm Förhandlinger: 8: 172-175.
Ussing, N.V. (1904) Sur la cryolithionite, espéce minérals nouvelle. Bulletin de l'Academie Royale des Sciences et des Letres de Danemark: 1: 1-12.
Bøggild, O.B. (1905) Mineralogia Groenlandica. Meddelelser om Grønland: 32.
Baldauf, R. (1910) Zeitschrift für praktische Geologie, Berlin, hale a.S.: 18: 432.
Steenstrup, K.J.V. (1911) Om Jærnspaten i Kryoliten ved Ivigtut. Meddelelser om Grønland: 47(11).
Bøggild, O.B. (1911) Iagttagelser over Kryolitgruppens Mineraler. Meddelelser om Grønland: 50(3).
Bøggild, O.B. (1912) Krystallform und Zwillingsbildungen des Kryoliths, des Perovskits und des Boracits Zeitschrift für Krystallographie: 50: 349-429.
Bøggild, O.B. (1912) De stalaktitiske Mineraler fra Ivigtut. Meddelelser om Grønland: 50(5): 177-185.
Bøggild, O.B. (1913) Beobachtungen über die Mineralien der Kryolithgruppe, Zeitschrift für Krystallographie: 51(6): 591-613.
Bøggild, O.B. (1913) Die stalaktitischen Mineralien von Ivigtut. Mineralogical and Geological Museum of The University, Copenhagen, Contributions to Mineralogy 13, Zeitschrift für Krystallographie: 51(6): 613-623 pl. XV.
Bernard (1916) [Title]. Mineralogical Magazine: 14: 202
Ball, S.H. (1922) The Mineral Resources of Greenland. Meddelelser om Grønland. 63(1).
Clausen, H. (1928) On the crystal structure of cryolithionite. Mémoires de l'Academie Royale des Sciences et des Lettres de Danemark, Copenhague, section des sciences, 9th series: 1(2): 77-99
Doelter, C. (1930) Handbuch der Mineral-chemie (in 4 volumes divided into parts): 4(3): 303.
Bøgvad, R. (1933) New Minerals from Ivigtut, Southwest Greenland. Meddelelser om Grønland: 92(8): 11 pp.
Crommelin, R.D. (1937) A Sedimentary Petrological Investigation of a Number of Sand Samples from the South Coast of Greenland between Ivigtut and Frederiksdal. Meddelelser om Grønland: 114(1).
Bøgvad, Richard (1938) Weberite, a new Mineral from Ivigtut. Meddelelser om Grønland: 119(7): 11 pp.
Gordon, S.G. (1939) Wulfenite, ralstonite and thomsenolite from Ivigtut, Greenland. Academy of Sciences in Philadelphia, Notulae Naturae: 11: 1-2.
Callisen, K. (1943) Igneous Rocks of the Ivigtut Region, Greenland. Part I: The Nepheline Syenites of the Grønne Dal-Ika Area. Meddelelser om Grønland: 131(8).
Bøgvad, R. (1951) Mineralogical observations on the cryolite deposit at Ivigtut, Greenland. Meddelelser fra Dansk Geologisk Forening (Bulletin of the Geological Society of Denmark): 12: 109-110.
Palache, C., Berman, H., and Frondel, C. (1951) The System of Mineralogy of James Dwight Dana and Edward Salisbury Dana, Yale University 1837-1892, Volume II: 1069.
Donnay, J.D.H. (1952) Cryolite twinning. American Mineralogist: 37: 230-234.
Bøggild, O.B. (1953) The Mineralogy of Greenland. Meddelelser om Grønland: 149(3): 442 pp. 88 text figs. 1 map.
Bondam, J. and Bøgvad, R. (1955) The geothermal gradient at Ivigtut, South Greenland. Meddelelser fra Dansk Geologisk Forening/Bulletin of the Geological Society of Denmark: 13: 43-45.
Pauly, H. (1956) Bøggildite. A New Phosphate-Fluoride from Ivigtut, South Greenland. Grønlands Geologiske Undersøgelse. Bulletin 24.
Møller, C.K. (1956) X-ray investigation of Bøggildite. Meddelelser om Grønland, 137(6), + Grønlands Geologiske Undersøgelse Bulletin 14.
Pauly, H. (1956) Bøggildite. A New Phosphate-Fluoride from Ivigtut, South Greenland. Meddelelser om Grønland: 137(6): 24 pp. 4 plates.
Pauly, H. (1960) Paragenetic relations in the main Cryolite ore of Ivigtut, South Greenland. Neues Jahrbuch für Mineralogie, Abhandlungen: 94: 121-139.
Soen, O.I. (1962) Hornblendic Rocks and their Polymetamorphic Derivatives in an Area NW. of Ivigtut, South Greenland. Meddelelser om Grønland: 169(6).
Pauly, H. (1962) Stenonite. A new Carbonate-Fluoride from Ivigtut, South Greenland. Meddelelser om Grønland: 169(9): 24 pp. 3 text figs. 2 plates.
Ayrton, S.N. (1963) A Contribution to the Geological Investigations in the Region of Ivigtut, SW Greenland. Meddelelser om Grønland: 167(3). (Grønlands Geologiske Undersøgelse)
Emeleus, C.H. (1964) The Grønnedal-Ika Alkaline Complex, South Greenland: The Structure and Geological History of the Complex. Meddelelser om Grønland: 172(3) (Grønlands Geologiske Undersøgelse) 75 pp. 25 text figs. 3 maps
Bondesen, E. and Henriksen, N. (1965) On some Pre-cambrian Metadolerites from the Central Ivigtut Region, SW Grønland. Meddelelser om Grønland: 179(2).
Pauly, H. (1965) Ralstonite from Ivigtut, South Greenland. American Mineralogist: 50: 1851-1864.
Soen, O.I. and Pauly, H. (1967) A Sulphide Paragenesis with Pyrrhotite and Markasite in the Siderite-Cryolite Ore of Ivigtut, South Greenland. Meddelelser om Grønland: 175(5).
Henriksen, N. (1969) Chemical relations between metabasaltic lavas and metadolerites in the Ivigtut Area, South-West Greenland. Meddelelser fra Dansk Geologisk Forening [Bulletin of the Geological Society of Denmark]: 19(1): 27-50.
Kalsbeek, F. and Leake, B.E. (1970) The Chemistry and Origin of Some Basement Amphibolites between Ivigtut and Frederikshåb, South-West Greenland. Meddelelser om Grønland: 190(4).
Pauly, H. and Siemes, H. (1973) Microhardness of galena related to Ag-Bi-content, orientation and deformation. Meddelelser fra Dansk Geologisk Forening (Bulletin of the Geological Society of Denmark): 22(1): 50-78.
Karup-Møller, S.A. (1973) Gustavite-Cosalite-Galena-Bearing Mineral Suite from the Cryolite Deposit at Ivigtut, South Greenland. Meddelelser om Grønland: 195(5).
Bertelsen, A. and Henriksen, N. (1975) Geological Map of Greenland 1:100000, Ivigtut 61 V.1 Syd. Meddelelser om Grønland: 186(1). Geodætisk Institut. 1975. Grønland: (1:250.000) 61 V.1 Ivigtut [map]
Hawthorne, F.C. and Ferguson, R.B. (1975) Refinement of the crystal structure of cryolite. Canadian Mineralogist: 13: 377-382.
Pauly, H. (1978) Twins in Cryolite types from Ivigtut, South Greenland. Meddelelser fra Dansk Geologisk Forening (Bulletin of the Geological Society of Denmark): 27: 7-14.
Pauly, H. (1979) Ivigtut, eine einzigartige Pegmatit-Lagerstätte in Südgrönland. Lapis: 4(5): 9-17.
Karup-Møller, S.A. and Pauly, H. (1979) Galena and associated ore minerals from the cryolite at Ivigtut, South Greenland. Meddelelser om Grønland Geoscience: 2.
Leonardsen, E.S., Pauly, H., Petersen, O.V., and Rønsbo, J.G. (1980) Retrieval of Wulfenite from the cryolite deposit, Ivigtut, South Greenland. Meddelelser fra Dansk Geologisk Forening (Bulletin of the Geological Society of Denmark): 29(3): 145-150.
Bailey, J.C. (1980) Formation of cryolite and other aluminofluorides: A petrologic review. Bulletin of the Geological Society of Denmark: 29: 1-45.
Petersen, O.V. and Secher, K. (1984) Grönland. Mineralien-Geologie-Geschichte. Magma: 6.
Pauly, H. (1985) Hardness of cryolite, chiolite, cryolithionite and other fluorides from Ivigtut, South Greenland. Meddelelser fra Dansk Geologisk Forening (Bulletin of the Geological Society of Denmark): 34(3-4): 145-150.
Pauly, H. (1985) Mechanical properties of cryolite from Ivigtut, South Greenland. Meddelelser fra Dansk Geologisk Forening (Bulletin of the Geological Society of Denmark): 33(3-4): 401-414.
Pauly, H. and Petersen, O.V. (1986) Pachnolite: new optical data with a note on artificial precipitates. Neues Jahrbuch für Mineralogie Monatshefte: 1986(6): 241-250.
Pauly, H. (1986) Cryolithionite and Li in the cryolite deposit, Ivigtut, South Greenland. Det kongelige danske Videnskabernes Selskab, Matematiske og Fysiske Meddelelser: 41(1): 24 pp.
Pauly, H. (1986) Chiolite in the cryolite deposit in Ivigtut, South Greenland, in I.R. Craig, R.D. Hagni, W. Kiesl, I.M. Lange, N.V. Petrovskaya, T.N. Shadlun, G. Udubasa & S.S. Augustithis (eds.), Mineral parageneses, Theophrastus Publications, Athens.
Stigø, S. (1987) Eventyret om Kryolit, Kryolitselskabet Øresund A/S (København).
Pauly, H. and Petersen, O.V. (1987) Acuminite, a new Sr-fluoride from Ivigtut, South Greenland. Neues Jahrbuch für Mineralogie Monatshefte: 1987(11): 504-514.
Pauly, H. and Petersen, O.V. (1988) Bøgvadite, Na2SrBa2Al4F20, a new fluoride from the cryolite deposit, Ivigtut, S. Greenland. Meddelelser fra Dansk Geologisk Forening (Bulletin of the Geological Society of Denmark): 37(1-2): 21-30.
Pauly, H. (1992) Topaz, prosopite and closing stages of formation of the Ivigtut cryolite deposit, South Greenland. Meddelelser om Grønland Geoscience: 28: 22 pp. 20 text figs.
Petersen, O.V. and Secher, K. (1993) The Minerals of Greenland. Mineralogical Record: 24(2): 36.
Ljungdal, B. (2004) Mineral-guide, Ivittuut Kryolitbrud (IN Danish). Grønlands Stenklub 2004. ISBN: 87-990597-0-3
Hedegaard, C. (2004) Mineralguide, Ivittuut kryolitbrud by Bjarne Ljungdal. (In Danish) Grønlands Stenklub, ISBN: 87-990597-0-3.

External Links

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XeAZ0udvogc - Cryolite quarry in Ivittuut (1949-53) Info: 8:30 min. In Danish.

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