Communicating science

2017.05.10

Ytterby elements: field trip

I couldn't pass up the chance to visit a site of scientific importance. After all, Nobel laureates in chemistry make the this trip.

Ytterby gruva, from which the names of four rare earth elements are derived, is on the island Resarö, in the Stockholm Archipelago. From Stockholm, one can get to Ytterby by land or sea. We opted to take the ferry there and return by bus.

Ytterby mapBlue point is ferry dock, red point is Ytterby Gruva

It was a short walk from the ferry stop to the mine, which was fairly well-marked.

Ytterby gruva

Ytterby gruvaInterestingly, the content of Engish and Swedish versions of the sign were different

The entrance to the mine was located at the top of a rocky ridge. Conveniently, there were stairs.

Ytterby gruvaThe ground leading to the mine was littered with debris - mostly quartz

After the mine closed in the 1930s, it was filled in. As a result, it wasn't obvious where the opening to the mine actually was. There were no remnants of buildings or equipment. 

Ytterby gruvaLooking down into the filled-in mine

We examined the rock wall, but weren't really sure what we were looking at. Maybe there was Gadolinite, but I only recognized quartz and mica. 

Ytterby gruvaExposed rock at Ytterby gruva

I found archival photos of Ytterby gruva on Tekniska Museet's website. It was difficult to reconcile the historical photos with the condition of the mine today.

Ytterby gruvaThen and now: Archive photo from Tekniska Museet (left) and approximate same location today (right)

Ytterby gruvaThen and now: Archive photo from Tekniska Museet (left) and approximate same location today (right)

ASM International, a professional organization for materials scientists and engineers, recognized the historical significance of Ytterby gruva.

Ytterby gruva

 

The streets in the village of Ytterby are named after elements!

Ytterby gruva

 

 

 

 

Michelle McCrackin

Michelle McCrackin

Limnologist
michelle.mccrackin@su.se