Meteoria Söderfjärden - a unique visting centre:
An exhibition, an astronomical observarory,
a bird-watching tower and an energy cellar
Seven reasons to visit Söderfjärden
The Söderfjärden plain about 10 kilometer south of Vaasa is a rare place. Its history is amazingly long. The peaceful plain is hiding many dramatic and rare events worth knowing. The reasons why Söderfjärden is worth a visit are:
I. It is an unusually beautiful meteorite crater
The Söderfjärden plain is the result of a meteorite impact about 520 million years ago. Its meteorite edges are well preserved. The arial view of the crater and its surrounding rim has fascinated many spectators. "The most beautiful meteorite crater in Finland" has a diameter of about 4 miles and is more than 300 meters deep. It is filled with young sediments of different rocks, e.g. Cambrian sandstone. There are eleven other places in Finland known to have traces of meteorite impact craters, but they are asymmetric waterfilled lakes not appearing much like craters now. Söderfjärden is a unique place on earth, since only about 190 meteorite impacts have been discovered.
II. The history of earth and life on earth can be studied
On Söderfjärden we can follow the history of earth from prehistoric times to our age. During millions of years continents have drifted, Söderfjärden has crossed the equator at least twice. During the unthinkable long history of the crater, life on earth has developed from simple organisms to the nature of today. In cores from strata under Söderfjärden very small fossils of invertebrates have been found, e.g. fragments of trilobites and brachiopods. This gives us a clue of how life developed.
III. The earth as a target to meteorites
Söderfjärden shows the processes occurring when orbs crash into the Earth. The process consisting of an unguided missile from space, the explosive formation of the crater in a chaos of fire, steam and melted stone and the devastating consequences, the extinction of life and chocked materia. Only a megaton-class nuclear explosion can be compared to this immense impact. A giant meteorite impact 65 million years ago propably contributed to the extinction of the dinosaurs. Asteroids and comets that cause meteorite impacts on earth have lately been focused in films, papers and scientific discussions. The interest is increasing while phenomena like comets (e.g. the Hale-Bopp comet in 1997) or fire-balls (e.g. the Tagish Lake meteorite in Canada in January 2000 or the meteorite in Denmark in vinter 2009, or Chelyabinsk-meteorite in Russia 2013 ) are falling down to the earth.
IV. The sea turns into land
The sediments deep in the crater show traces of several Ice Periods. Since the latest Ice Period the land has been rising from of the sea, initially about 10 meters per decade and today about 80 cm per century. Söderfjärden gives us data about the development during more than 4000 years.
On the north rims of the crater, on the hill Öjberget findings have been found from the Stone age, about 4000 years ago. A hut ground on another place in Sundom has been digged out and the age of it determined to the Iron Age, about 2000 years ago. The diggings tell us about a fishers' dwelling site far out in the western sea.
Signs of seine fishing have been noticed in the bay that slowly turned shallow in the Middle Ages. During the passing centuries the importance of fishing decreased, cultivation and pasturage in the marshlands increased. Until the last century arrowgrass and sedge were gathered as coarse-fodder. Broad zones of reeds gave roofs for the barns and the blossom left after the puff leaves) became the contents in pillows. At the end of the 18th century a drainage of the bay became more urgent.
V. The bay was drained in the largest drainage project in Northern Europe
In the beginning of the 19th century Söderfjärden was drained in a giant drainage project, which was the largest in the Northern Europe at that time. In spite of conflicts between landowners in the villages of Solf and Sundom, the project was completed. The central ditch "Riddardiket" was made deeper and kilometers of ditches were dug by hand in slippery clay. The Parliament passed a law "Lex Söderfjärden" to guarantee the drainage. The work was completed in 1927 and the villages next to Söderfjärden received large additional land for cultivation. The cultivation of the virgin land began.
More barns were built. Söderfjärden became the land of barns. At their most numerous, the barns numbered 3,000 in the 1940's. Only a few barns still exist today.
VI. Pumping and art
Pumps have drained Söderfjärden for more than 70 years. The old pump house is now a museum describing the drainage. The new pump house from the 1960's is at the same time an Arts Museum picturing the development of Söderfjärden. The three monumental wall-paintings made by Eivor Holm are worthy of the national art gallery as well. The painting in the roof describing meteorites, made by Paula Blåfield, and the pictures about the history painted by Nils Nygren, Tapani Tammenpää, Kaj Smeds, Lars Nedergård and Uno Mitts complete the unique art collection.
VII. The paradise of cranes in Finland
Söderfjärden today is a fertile plain with pipe draining. It is a continuous large area of cultivation land, totally 2 300 ha. Controlled drainage, which is environmentally good, was built at the end of the 1990's. Farming on Söderfjärden utilizes modern methods. Söderfjärden is also a paradise for birds, e.g. cranes use the plain as their resting place during many weeks every autumn. One day in autumn 2016 as many as 8 556 cranes were counted resting on Söderfjärden. The total amount of visiting cranes during autumn is over 20 000, which makes Söderfjärden the most important resting place for birds in Finland. Watching large flights of birds rise and fly west to the archipelago for the night is an unforgettable sight in autumn evenings. While the birds damage the cultivated crops, experiments are being conducted to feed cranes with special crop fields. Söderfjärden is part of the Finnish contribution to the EU Natura 2000 because of the cranes and it is also classified as a nationally important area for landscape care due to the farming culture.
To enhance the unique Söderfjärden, several development-projects have been implemented e.g. Sundom Bygdeförening´s leader-project ´from meteroritnedslag till kulturpärla´ (1997-2000) - ´from meteorcrater to culture-pearl´.
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