Disko Island

Coordinates: 69°45′N 53°30′W / 69.750°N 53.500°W / 69.750; -53.500
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Disko Island
Native name:
Qeqertarsuaq town on Disko Island
Map of Disko Island
Disko Island is located in Greenland
Disko Island
Disko Island
Location of Disko Island in Greenland
LocationBaffin Bay
Coordinates69°45′N 53°30′W / 69.750°N 53.500°W / 69.750; -53.500
Area8,578 km2 (3,312 sq mi)
Area rank84th largest in world
2nd largest in Greenland
Length160 km (99 mi)
Highest elevation1,919 m (6296 ft)
Highest pointPyramiden
Largest settlementQeqertarsuaq (pop. 839)
Pop. density0.13/km2 (0.34/sq mi)
Ethnic groupsInuit

Disko Island (Greenlandic: Qeqertarsuaq, Danish: Diskoøen) is a large island in Baffin Bay, off the west coast of Greenland. It has an area of 8,578 km2 (3,312 sq mi),[1] making it the second largest of Greenland after the main island and one of the 100 largest islands in the world.


The name Qeqertarsuaq means The Large Island (from qeqertaq = island).


Flying above Disko Island in December

The island has a length of about 160 km (100 mi), rising to an average height of 975 m (3,199 ft), peaking at 1,919 m (6,296 ft). The port of Qeqertarsuaq (named after the island, and also known as Godhavn) lies on its southern coast. Blæsedalen valley is north of Qeqertarsuaq.

The island is separated from Nuussuaq Peninsula in the northeast by the Sullorsuaq Strait. To the south of the island lies Disko Bay, an inlet bay of Baffin Bay.[2]


Erik the Red paid the first recorded visit to Disko Island at some time between 982 and 985; the island was used as a base for summer hunting and fishing by Norse colonists.[3]


Native iron from Disko Island (size: 4.9 x 2.9 x 1.5 cm [1.9 in. x1.1 in. x 0.6 in.])
Polished slab from this same deposit, now at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History

Mineral deposits, fossil finds and geological formations add to interest in the area. One of the interesting geological features is the native iron found at the island. A 22-ton (44,000 lbs; 20 tonnes) lump mixture of iron and iron carbide (cohenite) has been found. There are only a few places on earth where native iron is found which is not of meteoric origin.[4][5]

There are numerous hot springs on the island. The microscopic animal Limnognathia, the only known member of its phylum, was discovered in the Isunngua spring.


Several studies on the meiofauna show high marine interstitial diversity in Disko Island. For instance, the gastrotrich species Diuronotus aspetos is found in Iterdla[6] and Kigdlugssaitsut[7] and is so far reported only in Disko Island. It is associated with a rich diversity of other gastrotrichs like Chaetonotus atrox, Halichaetonotus sp., Mesodasys sp., Paradasys sp., Tetranchyroderma sp., Thaumastoderma sp. and Turbanella sp.[6]


  1. ^ Norwegian University of Science and Technology Archived 2011-06-15 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Nuussuaq, Saga Map, Tage Schjøtt, 1992
  3. ^ Seaver, Kirsten A. “Greenland and Vinland.” The Frozen Echo: Greenland and the Exploration of North America, Ca. A.D. 1000-1500, Stanford University Press, 1998, pp. 28–29.
  4. ^ Bird; John M.; Goodrich; Cyrena Anne; Weathers; Maura S. (1981). "Petrogenesis of Uivfaq iron, Disko Island, Greenland". Journal of Geophysical Research. 86 (B12): 11787–11805. Bibcode:1981JGR....8611787B. doi:10.1029/JB086iB12p11787.
  5. ^ W. Klöck; H. Palme & H. J. Tobschall (1986). "Trace elements in natural metallic iron from Disko Island, Greenland". Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology. 93 (3): 273–282. Bibcode:1986CoMP...93..273K. doi:10.1007/BF00389387. S2CID 129082315.
  6. ^ a b Balsamo M; Guidi L; Ferraguti M; Pierboni L & Kristensen RM (2010). "Diuronotus aspetos (Gastrotricha): new morphological data and description of the spermatozoon". Helgoland Marine Research. 64 (1): 27–34. Bibcode:2010HMR....64...27B. doi:10.1007/s10152-009-0163-x.
  7. ^ Todaro MA; Balsamo M & Kristensen RM (2005). "A new genus of marine chaetonotids (Gastrotricha) with a description of two new species from Greenland and Denmark". Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. 83 (6): 1391–1400. doi:10.1017/S0025315405012579. S2CID 53120866.