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    Svalbard: Geography

    Encyclopedia Arctica 14: Greenland, Svalbard, Etc. Geography and General


    001      |      Vol_XIV-0078                                                                                                                  
    AUTHOR: R.N. Rudmose Brown

    6,350 words


            R Brown's original, ours, and

    a flimsy, copied by

    Evelyn at Dearing, [ ?]

    to no.4 May 3/49

            SPITSBERGEN is a large group of islands lying chiefly between lat. 76° 30′N.

    and lat. 80° 50′N. and between long. 10° 30′E., and 34° E., on the edge of the

    European continental shelf at the northwestern corner of the Barents Sea. The

    chief islands and their areas are as follows: Vest Spitsbergen or the mainland,

    39,500 sq. km., Nordaustlandet, 15,000 sq. km.,EDGEÖYA, 5,150 sq. km., Barents–

    öya, 1,300 sq. km., Prins Karls Forland, 650 sq. km., and Hopen or Hope Island,

    46 sq. km. (q.v.). With the addition of Björnöya or Bear Island (q.v.) they form

    the Norwegian possession of Svalbard which has a total land area of 62,405

    sq.km. See separate articles. There has never been any aboriginal population

    in Spitsbergen. Since Norway took over Svalbard on August 14, 1925, in terms

    of the Spitsbergen Treaty of 1920, the sysselmann sysselmann (governor) and the bergmaster bergmaster

    (mining inspector) have resided at Longyearbyen, with the exception of certain

    war years. From 1912 there has been radio communication with Euro ep pe from vari–

    ous stations in Isfjorden. Surface mails to and from Norway and Russia function

    irregularly in summer. There are post offices at the chief coal mines. A certain

    number of beacons and buoys, erected by Norway to aid navigation, were destroyed

    by enemy action during World War II and are being replaced.

            Surface and Structure Most of the islands are rugged , with a great diversity

    of relief. The highest mountain is Newtontohpen, 1,717 m., in Ny Friesland. It

    has been several times ascended. The west and north coasts are deeply indented

    with long branching fjords of which the most notable is Isfjorden (Icefjord) ,

    100 km. in length , leading into the heart of the country. The western part of

    Spitsbergen including Prins Karls Forland is a belt of mountainous country

    with many sharp peaks rising generally to 1,000 m. more or less. It is built

    of old shales, dolomites, gneiss and schists and is part of the Caledonian

    002      |      Vol_XIV-0079                                                                                                                  
    Spitsbergen 2

    foldings as found in Western Scandinavia and Scot a land. These Caledonian

    foldings were at one time reduced to a peneplain and then upheaved and [ ?]

    disturbed again in Tertiary times. To the east of this mountainous belt

    the scenery changes except in the extreme north. The old peneplain of Palaeo–

    zoic rocks was overlain by later formations. Devonian and Carboniferous rocks

    are succeeded farther south by Juras s ic, Cretaceous and later rocks that have

    suffered little disturbance in the Tertiary elevation except that dykes and

    sills of basalt were emitted and heavy faulting gave rise to many valleys and

    fjords subsequently further eroded by ice and water action. The central and

    eastern mountains, including those of EDGEÖYA and Barentsö l y a , are generally

    flat-topped and reach about 600 or 700 m. in altitude.

            In glaciation too there is great contrast between the west, with its

    valley glaciers and the east with its more continuous reticular glaciat i o n,

    rarely meriting the title of an ice sheet except perhaps in Nordaustlandet. Ny

    Friesland in the north east of Vest Spitsbergen is also [ ?] heavily glaciated.

    In the heart of the country there is a considerable area that is now almost

    free from ice. This includes wide valleys such as De Geerdalen, Sassendalen,

    Adventdalen and Gypsdalen. They were glaciated in the past but possibly to a

    less extent than other regions owing to a low precipitation and consequently have

    already lost their ice. Certainly all glaciation in Spitsbergen seems to be

    receding slowly.

            The west and north coasts of Spitsbergen are provided with m any excel–

    lent though rather deep harbors. Isfjorden is particularly noticeable in this

    respect. Most of the harbors are clear of obstruction but in spite of the com–

    pleteness of surveys in recent years unknown rocks or reefs may occur. Off

    glaciers or glacial torrents shoal water generally occurs. Raised beaches

    form frequent narrow plains along the coast. These often have well consolidated

    003      |      Vol_XIV-0080                                                                                                                  
    Spitsbergen 3

    firm surfaces affording natural highways. On the other hand many are covered

    with glacial debris and studded with swamps, bays and shallow lakes.

    Mineral Resources . Coal occurs in Spitsbergen in several geological formations

    beginning with Devonian. Several of the Björnöya seams are of this age but

    they are thin, much faulted and of poor quality. Lower Carboniferous or Culm

    seams are mo r e important. At Björnöya the Culm coal is poor but around isfjorden

    especially in Billfjorden (Klaas Billen Bay) the seems are thicker. They

    are being worked by a Soviet mining organization at Pyramiden or Mimerdalen

    on the west of Billefjorden. At and below sea level they occur in Bönsow

    Land on the east of the f h jord. The Upper Carboniferous rocks contain no

    coal. The total reserves of Lower Carboniferous coal in Spitsbergen have [ ?]

    been estimated at over a thousand million tons. One seam of Cretaceous coal,

    formerly described as Jurassic, occurs. It has been mined in Adventfjorden

    but is of poor quality and is now abandoned. Reserves [ ?] are equal to those

    of Culm coal and far more accessible. Tertiary coal is the most important

    and is the coal on which Spitsbergen's export depends. It is or has been

    worked in various places in Isfjorden, K i o ngsfjorden and Braganzavägen by

    various compani e s of several nationalities. The Kongsfjorden (Ny Aalesund) field

    is very restricted and is now [ ?] abandoned. Elsewhere the main seam is above

    sea level and is relatively easily reached. Most [ ?] is good co ø king coal.

    Reserves are estimated at five thousand million tons.

            From time to time valuable mineral ores have been reported but most

    are imaginary or in small unworkable quantities. No large deposits of iron

    ore have been found: those that occur are either poor or in small quantities.

    The value of copper and zinc ores is negligible. Galaena occurs only on

    Björnöya where small amounts have been mined. The phosphoric nodules of Kapp

    Thordsen that once attracted attention are of no value. Mineral oil has not

    been found; a few oil shales are reported. Gypsum of high quality and in

    004      |      Vol_XIV-0081                                                                                                                  

    enormous quantities occurs in the Permo-Carboniferous [ ?] rocks of central

    Spitsbergen. No deposits in Europe are of greater extent or purity. Asbes–

    tos of poor quality occurs. There is marble of va l r ed and pleasing colors

    in Kongsfjorden (Kings Bay.)

            Currents and Ice Two outstanding currents reach the coasts of Spitsbergen

    and affect the distribution of pack ice around the islands. The Svalbard

    drift, a northward flowing branch of the North Cape drift which itself is

    a branch of the North Atlantic Drift, makes a gulf of relative warmth on

    the west side of Spitsbergen and keeps shore waters normally free from pack–

    ice. Except for the freezing of inner fjords the western coast harbors may

    be open all the winter. This warm [ ?] water e a ffects to a lesser extent the

    north coast but its influence decreases eastward and disappears before Nord–

    austlandet is reached. Countrary to this drift is the cold Arctic drift of water

    that crosses the Arctic Ocean Sea and flows against the northeast and east coasts

    of Spitsbergen, investing those coasts with a stream of pack ice. This ice

    may pass round Sörkapp (South Cape) in the Sörkapp current and impede access

    to the southwest coast even in the summer months. The Sörkapp current also

    brings the pack ice to Björnöya normally in winter months and occasionally

    in summer. The warmer and more saline Atlantic waters of theSvalba r d drift

    On co l o ling off the northwest and north of Spitsbergen sink below the less

    saline Arctic waters and form the intermediate layer of warm water which is

    now believed to underlie the entire surface of the Arctic Sea. The only

    considerable icebergs produced from Spitsbergen glaciers are those from

    Nordsustlandet; other glaciers calve only small bergs.

            Climate The climate is less Arctic than the latitude would suggest, but

    there is a change to severer conditions towards the eastern side. The gulf

    005      |      Vol_XIV-0082                                                                                                                  

    of warmth due to the Svalbard drift and the passage of associated "lows " from

    the Atlantic, modify the extremity of Arctic conditions. It may be termed

    an example of a marine Arctic climate, found also in Björnöya, the northern

    parts of Novaya Zemlya and the outer coastal regions of Greenland, in which it

    may freeze in every month and in every month a thaw may occur. Pressure

    tends to the higher in summer th n a n in winter but is seldom markedly high and

    the ice areas are not sufficiently large to establish anywhere a permanent high

    pressure area. Winds are strong, especially in the west with the passage of

    "lows , " but calms often occur especially in the east, and are not uncommon in

    the west. Thunderstorms are very rare. Visibility, when there is daylight,

    is generally good but is poor when Atlantic weather occurs. A fog belt tends

    to hover off the margin of the pack ice on the west and southeast and occasion-

    ally in summer envelops all the higher ground in the western part of the main–

    land and also persists around Björnoöya. Precipitation at sea level is low, about

    300 mm. in the west and a little more than half that amount in the east. Most

    of the precipitation falls as snow: rain or snow may fall in July and August.

    In those months there is generally no snow on the lower ground and [ ?] glacier

    surfaces show bare ice. In other months the whole country is more or less snow


            In the western districts temperatures average 42° to 41° F. in July

    and August respectively, the only months with means above freezing. In September

    there is a rapid fall to 32° F. and this fall reaches 3° F. in January and 1° F. in

    February. Extreme winter minima may fall very low, -25° F. or lower , but these are

    rare. Extreme summer maxima have risen to over 60° F.; occasional July days can feel

    oppressively warm. On the eastern side the corresponding figures are lower. Mete–

    orological data are available from Grönfjorden (Green Harbor), Longyearbyen

    (Advent Bay) or Kapp Linne, Isfjorden, since 1912 and from Björnöya (Bear

    006      |      Vol_XIV-0083                                                                                                                  

    Island) since 1923. Records of about one year or more are available from a

    large number of other places, including Ebeltofthamna in Krossfjorden (Cross

    Bay) where there was a German observatory from 1910 to 1914. The Swedish contri–

    bution to the International Polar Year of 1882-83 was an observatory at Kapp

    Thordsen and the Second International Polar Year of 1932-33 observatories at

    Sveagruva (Braganzavägen) and on the summit of Nordenskjöldfjellet at 1,050 m.

    Vegetation Plant life is not continuous even on the lower ground but is

    rarely altogether absent on ice-free sites. The general vegetation is one of

    very open tundra with no trees or shrubs but occasional patches of luxuriant

    herbaceous growth especially in the vicinity of the bird rookeries. In July

    and August there is a wide range of plants in flower, saxifrages, buttercups,

    lousewort, potentillas, avens, etc. There are hillsides purple [ ?] with saxi–

    frages and marshes gay with white cotton grass. Even on the most exposed ground

    the Arctic poppy flourishes. [ ?] There are about 150 species of flowering

    Plants. Practically all the genera and most of the species are found also in

    Great Britain. About 80% of the plants are circumpolar in distribution.

    Plants of economic value are few, the rare fruits of the crowberry ( Empetrum Empetrum

    nigrum nigrum ) and the mountain raspberry ( Rubus chamaemorus Rubus chamaemorus ), scurvy grass and

    wood sorrel as provide antiscorbutics and a natural pasture which in places supports

    reindeer and introduced musk oxen and a few ponies. No plant supplies fuel

    but the transacrctic current brings great quantities of Siberian drift wood

    to many beaches. Mosses and L l ichens are numerous. The flora of both flower-

    ing plants and [ ?] cryptograms decreases in number of [ ?] species and luxuriance

    of [ ?] growth towards the east. Lack of soil and brevity of summer pr e clued all

    cultivation of root or grain crops.

    007      |      Vol_XIV-0084                                                                                                                  

    Animal Life The reindeer or caribou used to be numerous especially in

    central and northern districts and in EDGEÖYA. It is a special Spitsbergen

    variety allied to the variety found in Ellesmere Island. Excessive hunting

    has much reduced numbers: its slaughter is now forbi g dden. The musk o [ ?] or

    ovibos which belongs to Arctic Canada was introduced to Spitsbergen in 1929

    and by 1936 the numbers had doubled. The Arctic hare has also been introduced

    from Greenland. The Arctic fox, in the two varieties, white and blue, and

    very rarely the black variety , occur in [ ?] rapidly decreasing numbers. Until

    thirty years ago foxes swarmed near most bird cliffs: now they have been

    trapped almost to extinction for the sake of the ir valuable winter coats. The

    fox is protected from April to [ ?] October. The polar bear is a winter visitor

    to many coasts but rarely is seen on the west or in the interior since its

    home is on the pack ice. The winter skin has some value. Between [ ?]

    100 and 200 are still trapped or shot every winter in Spitsbergen. Since it

    cannot be hunted in its principal haunts - the drifting pack - ice - the

    polar bear is saved from extermination. The wolf, lemming and lynx do not


            Sea mammals in Spitsbergen waters include several whales and five

    seals of which the walrus is one. The narwhal has been recorded but now

    seems to be extinct. The bowhead, right or Greenland whale was once found in

    enormous numbers but now is rarely seen. The quick-moving finner whales, blue,

    sei, and finback, are whales of the open sea and [ ?] not [ ?] inshore waters.

    The humpback and boölenose are now almost extinct. The ubiquitous killer

    whale or grampus also belongs to the open sea. The white whale or K k vidfisk K k vidfisk

    used to be numerous in coastal and fjord waters and was fished for its skin

    and oil. Of all the Spitsbergen seals the walrus used to be most numerous

    and more important to the sealers but now it is seldom seen. In Spitsbergen

    as elsewhere it is rapidly becoming extinct. The other seals are the Greenland ,

    008      |      Vol_XIV-0085                                                                                                                  

    harp, saddleback or ground seal, the ringed seal or snadd snadd , the bearded seal

    or storkobbe storkobbe , and the bladder-nose or hooded seal. None is fur bearing but all

    have value for oil; the large bearded seal is preferred by the sealers.

            Some species , excluding probable vagrants, constitute the bird

    fauna of Spitsbergen and nearly all are summer visitors. Most of these are

    sea - birds and nest on the coasts whose bird cliffs house millions of nesting

    birds every summer. They include fulmars, kittiwakes, little auks, guillemots,

    puffins, glaucous gulls, ivory gulls and more rarely razorbills, Sabine gulls

    and Ross gulls. Less ubiquitous are the sanderling, turnstone, dunlin and

    certain plovers as well as several divers, the gray phal e a rope, the black

    throated diver, the Arctic tern, the snow bunting, Bewick's swan, the snowy

    owl (a winter resident), the snow bunting (the only song bird), the ptarmi–

    gan (a winter resident) and many geese (barnacle, pink footed and brent)

    and ducks (eider, scoter, etc.) and several skuas. There is a close season

    for geese from July 15 to August 15 and for eider eggs and down from July 1.

            Of the fish of interest the Arctic cod used to be fished in [ ?] Isfjorden , and the

    Greenland shark is still numerous but no longer fished for its oil.

            There are few insects, no bees or butterflies, only hover flies,

    aphids, spiders, small beetles, etc. , and many troublesome gnats. The mosquito

    does not occur.

            Living off the country for a small party is quite possible in Spits–

    bergen especially near the coast or around Isfjorden though it is less easy

    than in the past. Reindeer and bear, the latter obtainable only in winter,

    afford excellent food but the bears liver must be discarded. Loons, guile–

    mots and fulmars are easily killed at bird cliffs; ducks and geese are numer–

    ous around lagoons, but shy. Ptarmigan are local and easily hit. Seal

    009      |      Vol_XIV-0086                                                                                                                  

    hunting is more difficult and demands a special technique but the flesh of

    young seals is specially palatable. Off the coasts excellent fish abound and

    in a few streams char can be caught.

            Exploration The Norse discovery of Svalbard to the north of Iceland in 1194,

    as recorded in the Landnamabok Landnamabok , was possibly Spitsbergen, although

    it may have been East Greenland: but there is no further record for several

    centuries. It is possible, even if evidence is lacking, that Russian hunters

    visited Spitsbergen several centuries before western Europe knew of the land.

    At any rate the first definite discovery was that by the Dutchman Barents in

    1596 when he was searching for a way to the East and revealed the west and

    northwest coasts and Bear Island. He called the principal land Spitsbergen

    and regarded it as a part of Greenland, a belief that for long persisted. Little

    attention was paid to it until in 1607 H. Hudson, seeking a northeast [ ?] passage,

    reported [ ?] an abundance of whales and seals in Spitsbergen waters.

            This led

    to the first phase in the exploitation of Spitsbergen, and for a century or

    more the western bays that afforded good harbors were the scene of busy summer

    stations to which the whales were towed from adjacent waters to be boiled down

    for oil. There were whalers of many nations and disputes, often reaching violence,

    between rival whalers of whom Dutch and English were the principal. These

    whalers revealed a good deal of the coasts and chief features of the islands,

    but their charting was rough and in places contradictory. On the whole the

    English whalers were the most enterprising and names that stand out are Marma–

    duke, Edge and Carolus. Edge's map, published in 1625 in PURCHAS PILGRIMS, in–

    corporated much detail collected from the Muscovy Company's skippers. It was the

    last important British chart of Spitsbergen until recent times. The best

    010      |      Vol_XIV-0087                                                                                                                  

    Dutch Chart, which came later, was that of Giles and Rep published in 1710. The

    whaling was solely a summer occupation; shore stations were deserted during the

    winter. The largest of these was the Dutch station of Smeerenberg on Amsterdam

    Island in the northwest. Founded in 1617, it had by 1633 a summer population

    of over a thousand with dwelling huts, storehouses, shops, etc. Only a few

    foundations and the adjoining graveyard now remain. The whalers and sealers

    never went inland and being summer visitors never saw the foxes and reindeer

    in their winter coats, so had no inducement to hunt land animals.

            As the whales failed about the middle of the 17th century owing to over

    fishing, the whalers left Spitsbergen and moved out into the Greenland Sea.

    Then came the Russian trappers, early in the eighteenth century and not im–

    probably earlier. Theirs was a daring venture since in those days it was con–

    sidered most risky to attempt a winter in the Arctic night; polar bears were

    also a terror. For a century or more Russian trappers virtually [ ?]

    colonized Spitsbergen and Bear Island during winter, living in loghouses built

    on prominent points around the coasts. They were ac c ustomed in northern Russia

    to winter cold and darkness ; and though they lived well on imported stores and

    locally killed meat, their mortality from accident and scurvy was high but the

    profits of the hunt were considerable. The winter hunt was often followed by

    the chase of wolves and white whaling in summer.

            Many of the houses, built of course with imported materials, lasted

    until recent times when they were used for fuel by later adventurers. In the

    nineteenth century the stock of fur bearing animals and consequently the number

    of trappers decreased. There were better fur hunting fields for Russians f u a rther

    east and their place in Spitsbergen was taken by No r w wegians who in summer hunted

    walrus and other seals, sharks and white whales and in winter trapped bears,

    foxes and reindeer. They also collected eider down. The Norwegians were never

    011      |      Vol_XIV-0088                                                                                                                  

    such export winterers as the Russians and lived in primitive shacks built of

    driftwood and packing cases; their rate of mortality was high. The use of

    poisoned bait was added to more legitimate methods of hunting though forbidden

    by the Norwegian government; but the occupation remained lucrative enough, esp-

    ecially on the eastern coasts, to support fifty or sixty parties which was too

    many for the continuance of the game stocks, until Norway took over control of

    the island and narrowly limited the occupation by license duties and game laws.

    While none of the Russian trappers added anything to the map of Spitsbergen,

    several of the Norwegians did exploration of value and made other observations.

    E. Carlsen in 1863 made the first authentic circumnavigation of Spitsbergen

    and S. Tobieson in 1865-66 made the first meteorological records on Bear Island.

    Many Norwegian and Spitsbergen skippers have been pilots and ice masters on

    exploring vessels of all nations. Without their skill far less would have been


            The position of Spitsbergen in relation to the Pole and its

    relatively easy accessibility in the west made it an a o bvious base for expedi-

    tions aiming at a high latitude. The expedition of J. C. Phipps in 1773

    achieved practically nothing and that of D. Buchan and J. Franklin in 1815

    did little more but E. Sabine in 1823 began valuable magnetic work. In 1827

    E. Parry with the Hecla and Fury based on Treurenberg Bay reached lat. 82°

    43′N. with sledges. This was the last British exploring expedition to Spits–

    bergen financed by the British Government. W. Scoresby, the Whitby whaler,

    made many observations on Spitsbergen recorded in his memorable volume

    on the Arctic regions, but the scientific expoloration of the islands made

    little progress until the second half of the nineteenth century when Swedish

    work became prominent. A long line of Swedes beginning with A. E. Norden–

    [ ?] sk j i öld in 1858, A.P. Nathorst, G. de Geer, J.G. Andersson and many others

    012      |      Vol_XIV-0089                                                                                                                  

    up to H. W. Ahlmann in the present day revealed the main features of the

    structure and geology. One of the least fortunate was S. A. Andreé who in

    1897 was lost in attempting to fly a balloon over the Pole from King's Bay.

    The mystery of his fate was not solved until 1930 when G. Horn found the remains

    of men and camp on White Island (Kvitöya or Giles Land).

            In Spite of the careful intensity of much of the Swedish and other

    work in the nineteenth century, the interior and North East Land were little

    known and the myth of "Inland Ice" was applied even to the main island in its

    western parts. The first authentic crossing of Spitsbergen from west to east

    was made by Sir M. Conway (later Lord Conway of Allington), J. W. Gregroy and

    E. J. Garwood in 1896, but of course roving hunters who left no record almost

    certainly had previously crossed. North East Land is less accessible on ac–

    count of pack ice than most other parts of Spitsbergen and its exploration en–

    tails a probable wintering. Thus it remained unvisited by the many small sum–

    mer expeditions. The first explorer was A. E. Nordensk j i öld in 1873 from his

    base at [ ?] Mossel Bay furth r e r west which was to have been the point of de–

    parture for a high northern latitude, with reindeer sledges. This attempt was

    abandoned when the reindeer escaped and Nordensk j i öld turned to North East Land.

            But the thorough exploration of that land was to wait for more recent expedi-

    tions although the Russo-Swedish Arc of Meridian Expedition of 1898 to 1902,

    in fixing a number of points, laid the foundations of accurate survey in the

    east. Prominent names in these expeditions were E. Jäderin, G. de Geer and

    T. N. Tchernichev. In 1924 G. V B inney, with previous experience to his credit,

    led the Oxford University Expedition to Nordaustlandet (North East Land),

    succeeded in crossing the island and adding a good deal to the map. He was

    the first to fly in Spitsbergen. Another important expedition was the Swedish–

    Norwegian venture under H. W. Ahlmann in 1931 which di d much work, especially

    013      |      Vol_XIV-0090                                                                                                                  

    on glaciers. Lastly A.R. Glen's Oxford Expedition of 1935 to 1936 practically

    finished the map and the ground work of exploration. North East Land was the

    scene of one of the few disasters inSpitsbergen exploration. In 1912 the Ger–

    man Schroeder Stranz expedition aimed to explore the island. The leader and

    three companions were lost in an attempt to sledge to the north coast, and the

    remainder of the party made an ignominious retreat from Mossel Bay.

            In addition to more formal expeditions much careful exploration

    has been done by yachtsmen like Sir J. Lamont and B. Leigh Smith on the east coast,

    the oceanographical expedition of the Prince of Monaco, especially in Red Bay

    in 1899 and F. Nansen's investigations in the seas to the west and north. Also

    most important were W.S. Bruce's surveys of Prince Charles Foreland in 1906,

    −07, −09 and later years. Another enterprising kind of expedition was of eager

    even if inexperienced young men from Oxford and Cambridge to tackle specific

    problems in survey, glaciology and geology.

            Norway was late in entering the

    field of Spitsbergen discovery and investigation but she has amply made up for

    this neglect during the present century. From 1906 onwards, the war years

    excepted, scarcely a summer passed without one or more Norwegian parties,

    generally with State subsidies , being at work in the survey of Spitsbergen.

    Photographic and latterly air surveys were used in making detailed maps of

    the whole group , and hydrographical surveys of surrounding waters. Prominent

    Norwegians in these expeditions were G. Isachsen, A. Staxrud, A. Hoel, G. Horn,

    A.K. Orvin. Since Norway assumed the sovereignty of the group in 1925 the

    Spitsbergen department of the Norwegian Government has been concerned with the

    completion of the exploration of Spitsbergen and has devoted a series of

    publications - SKRIFTER OM SVALBARD OG ISHAVET - to scientific records of

    the country.

    014      |      Vol_XIV-0091                                                                                                                  

            Lastly it should be noted that the various claimants to coal [ ?]

    bearing land and the companies who actually engaged in mining added much to the

    surveys, topographical and geological, of various parts of Icefjord, Bell Sound

    and King's Bay. The large scale maps of the Sassen and Klaas Billen areas were

    thus prepared by J. Mathieson, 1919 and 1920. Many Spitsbergen explorers were

    indebted for generous help to the two successive heads of the Store Norske

    Kulkompagni, Karl Bay and E. Sverdrup.

            Several expeditions by air for the exploration, not of Spitsbergen,

    but of the inner polar regions have used Kongsfjorden (King's Bay) as a base

    of departure. Such a one was that of Andr é e (see above). In 1925 Amundsen

    made an unsuccessful attempt to fly to the Pole, and the following year R.E.

    Byrd flew to the Pole and back, and R. Amundsen and L. Ellsworth took their

    airship Norge to Alaska. In 1928 H. Wilkins landed near the mouth of Isfjorden

    after a non-stop flight from Alaska, and in the same year U. Nobile's airship

    Italia flew to the Pole and elsewhere before meeting with disaster.


    centuries of records of travel and of maps, many of them most inaccurate,

    left Spitsbergen with a legacy of place names in many languages and no authority

    to discriminate and establish correct forms. Nomenclature began with the

    English and Dutch whalers and was followed by a succession of Swedish, English,

    German and Norwegian place names, many of which overlapped or were in other

    ways redundant. Norway recently undertook the examination of the ten thousand

    place names of Svalbard and produced a definitive list which all map makers

    have now accepted. (The Place [ ?] Names of Svalbard, SKRIFTER OM SVALBARD OG ISHAVET,

    No. 80, Oslo,1942). Priority has been the guiding principle in deciding the

    names to be accepted but Norwegian forms, suffixes and geographical terms are

    used, in place of the more familiar English versions, which were due to the ac–

    cepted chart for many years having been the British Admiralty Chart No. 2751.

    015      |      Vol_XIV-0092                                                                                                                  

    Polit i cal History The polit i cal history of Spitsbergen is long and tangled.

    Barents on his discovery of Spitsbergen in 1596 set up a post with the Dutch

    arms, an indication of claim, but Holland was not interested at the time. In

    1613 King James gave the Muscovy Company of London a charter excluding all other

    ships , British and foreign. The following year the company received an Order

    in Council to uphold the king's right to King James' Land. A declaration was

    made and a cross with the royal arms erected, by Fortherby at several points.

    In practice the name King James' Land was little used: the belief, however, that

    it was part of Greenland was rejected by the Muscovy Company's skippers. There

    was no official Dutch counter-claim but Prince Maurice of Amsterdam gave Dutch

    whalers a monopoly in Spitsbergen waters. There was thus a clash of English and

    Dutch monopolies , with Denmark putting in a claim in 1614, both as an inheritor

    of Norse rights and as sovereign of Greenland. But Denm r a rk's claim was thin and

    largely ignored. Dutch and English came to a working agreement dividing [ ?] the

    bays. This worked fairly well and the two strong rivals combined against Dan–

    ish, Basque and Hamburg whalers; although as the whalers gave up using shore

    stations by the late seventeenth century the political quarrel was forgotten.

            No state had a word to say when Russia virtually colonized Spitsbergen in the

    eighteenth century though [ ?] Russia seems to have tried a few half hearted poli–

    tical moves such as the attempt in 1765 to found a post in Bell Sound. On a

    later occasion Russia expressed the view that Spitsbergen should remain a terra

    when in 1871 the twin state of Norway and Sweden made tentative suggest–

    ions of extending her protection to Spitsbergen. In 1899 a Russian cruiser

    disavowing any political intent investigated German activities on Björnöya (q.v.) .

    Norway then propo r s ed an international conference on the subject but on Russian

    opposition the suggestion was dropped. Norway raised the topic again in 1907

    after an American Company (Arctic Coal Co. of Boston, U.S.A.) had bought coal

    016      |      Vol_XIV-0093                                                                                                                  

    bearing estates. Norway, Sweden and Russia were each unwilling that one or other

    of the remaining two should have a controlling say in the destinies of Spits–

    bergen. The debate continued.

            Meanwhile in 1909 the Committee on Foreign

    Affairs of the United States Senate recommended the extension of American

    protection to ownerless islands where American subjects had discovered coal

    or other minerals. Clearly Spitsberg a e n was indicated. International confer–

    ences continued and the dispute d ragged on until 1914 when the outbreak of

    war gave all the states more immediate problems to hold their attention. The

    chief obstructor in the last conference was Germany not Russia, and Germany

    made a last bid in the Brest Litovsk Treaty of 1918. Even ut tu ally in 1920 the

    Supreme Council gave Norway sovereignty , subject to certain conditions regard-

    ing pre-existing claims to land, over Spitsbergen, North East Land, Bear Island

    and all adjacent islands. All interested powers as well as Italy, the United

    States and Japan signed the treaty. Russia signed it in 1924. No fortification

    or military establishments of any kind are to be allowed on the Svalbard islands.

            The first world war did not touch Spitsbergen except that it en–

    couraged coal mining as the price of coal rose. The second world war reached

    the islands in a tragic way. Lest the mines and stores of coal might fall into

    enemy hands a British Expeditionary Force was sent to Spitsbergen on August 25th ,

    1941 , to destroy the coal stores, render unworkable the mines and evacuate the

    miners to Norway and Russia. These task s a were completed without opposition.

    In May 1942 a small German force arrived and occupied Longyearbyen. About the

    same time a Norwegian party of 82 all told was taken in an ice-breaker to

    Grönfjorden to resume meteorological [ ?] observations. The Norwegian party [ ?]

    was attacked by enemy bombers. Fourteen men , including Director E. Sverdrup

    of the Store Norske Spitsbergen Kulkompagni A . G. , were killed. The survivors

    017      |      Vol_XIV-0094                                                                                                                  

    in Barentsburg were bombed daily until the end of May when a British Cata–

    lin a e appeared and received a message asking for help. In June the wounded

    were moved by air. On July 2 a British naval squadron arrived and found no

    Germans. A Norwegian garrison of 100 men was left. On September 8,1943, a

    German naval squadron including T I RPITZ, S C HARNHORST and eight destroyers

    accompanied by [ ?] planes arrived and fired at all buildings. The small

    garrison replied but was completely outgunned. After a few hours the enemy

    withdrew and never returned.

            Mining Jonas Poole, one of the Muscovy Company's walrus hunters in 1610

    discovered "sea coals which burnt very well" in Kings Bay (Kongsfjorden).

    He also found coal on Bear Island. From time to time other seams were re–

    corded. Sir J. Lamont in coaled his yacht in Kings Bay and in 1899 the

    Prince of M a onaco coaled his yacht in Advent Bay. But the first claim to a

    mining estate was made not for coal but for phosphates by a Swedish company

    at Cape Thordsen in 1872. The attempt was a failure. The staking of a claim

    to land was an easy matter but security of tenure was difficult since Spits–

    bergen was accepted by all states as a terra nullius outside authority of any

    kind. A claim to land was indicated by notices on the site and possibly an

    intimation to the Foreign Office of the claimant's state. Occupation even if

    only in summer, was, by usage, accepted as evidence of ownership but there was

    much trespass and many counterclaims. Scores of claims went no further than the

    erection of notice boa r ds. Many were made by hopeful adventurers without any know–

    ledge of mining or geology; a few led to tentative mines but very few reached the

    export stage even on a small scale. The western coasts, especially the fjord

    coasts, early this century were littered with pretentious claim boards of

    individuals and firms,

    018      |      Vol_XIV-0095                                                                                                                  
    but in 1910 the company was revived as the SVENSKA SPETSBERGEN KULKOMPAGNI claim-


            ing [ ?] in [ ?] and several parts of [ ?] . The coal seams

    at [ ?] were developed and for some years there was a small preperty

    most of whom had no capital behind them and none had any authority to take

    land or safeguards to hold it.

            The year 1905 saw the beginning of serious

    coal mining. Two Americans, J. M. Longyear and F. Ayer, who afterwards

    formed the ARCTIC COAL COMPANY of Boston, U.S.A., bought and widely extended

    Norwegian estates in Green Harbour (Grönfjorden) and Advent Bay. The same

    year the SPITSBERGEN COAL AND TRADING COMPANY of Sheffield bought another

    Norwegian claim and started work on the opposite side of Advent Bay. The

    Sheffield mine, in a poor seam, was abandoned in 1908. Out of a variety of

    Norwegian and English claims in Kings Bay (Kongsfjorden) emerged the KINGS

    BAY KULKOMPAGNI of Aalesund which mined and exported, with the most northerly

    railway in the world, until 1929. Meanwhile in 1916 the Arctic Coal Company

    of Boston had sold all its estates and settlements to the STORE NORSKE SPITS–

    BERGEN KULKOMPAGNI which, with much financial help from the Norwegian govern–

    ment, became a large well equipped mine exporting up to 300,000 tons every

    summer, with two large mining camps, Longyearbyen and Sverdrupbyen. Other small

    Norwegian mines had no success and were sold or abandoned.

            Swedish interests

    for a time were prominent. They had begun before the days of active coal

    mining with the flotation in 1872 of ISFJORDEN BELLSUNDEN KOMPAGNI to mine

    phosphatic nodules in the Triassic rocks of Kapp Thordsen. This was a failure

    but in 1910 the company was revived as the SVENSKA SPETSBERGEN KULKOMPAGNI claim–

    ing estates in Braganzavägen and several parts of Isfjorden. The coal seams

    at Braganzavägen were developed and for some years there was a small [ ?]

    export. Eventually in 1934 this Swedish coal mine was sold to STORE NORSKE

    KULKOMPAGNI and the Swedish claim in Pyramiden, Mimerdalen passed to SOVIET

    ARKTIK UGOL. But Soviet claims had [ ?] begun at an earlier date when about

    1912 the ANGLO-RUSSIAN GRUMANT COMPANY started mining near Coles Bay in

    Isfjorden and an allied company acquired Norwegian claims in Green Harbour.

    019      |      Vol_XIV-0096                                                                                                                  

    The for e mer were poor and were eventually abandoned after a few years working

    and the export of a few cargoes. The Green Harbour estate had many changes of

    ownership. In 1920 it passed to the NEDERLANDSCHE SPITSBERGEN COMPAGNIE with

    a subsidy from the Dutch Government along with a purchase from Norwegian

    claimants at Kapp Boheman. The latter was soon aba n doned but the former was

    developed on a large scale and began to export. In 1932 [ ?] however the Dutch

    owners sold out to the Soviet Arktik Ugol which poured labor and materials

    into the settlement of Baren s tsburg. At the outbreak of war in 1939 this and

    the Norwegian mine at Longyearbyen were the only two well equipped exporting

    mines in Svalbard.

            British mining ventures were less successful. THE NORTHERN

    EXPLORATION COMPANY of London was formed in 1909 and claimed widely scattered

    estates in the country but never reached the export stage. After a varied

    career this company sold out to the Store Norske Kulkompagni in 1932. THE

    SCOTTISH SPITSBERGEN XSYNDICATE also formed in 1909, made extensive claims

    but [ ?] eventually concentrated on coal and gypsum lands at the head of Isfjorden.

    It is not an exporter. The total export of coal from Spitsbergen rose from

    1500 tons [ ?] in 1907 to 24,860 tons in 1917, 313,000 tons in 1927, 740,000

    tons in 1937. The total number of employees in 1937-38 was 2,653 of whom nearly

    2,000 were Russian and the remainder Norwegian.

            The Spitsbergen Treaty of 1920

    provided that all claims to land should be submitted to a Danish commissioner

    for examination and confirmation or cancellation. This clause revived a multi–

    tude of forgotten claims: seventy-four on behalf of twenty-six claimants were

    submitted. Forty were formally recognized: the others were discarded. [ ?]

    This allocation has since been changed by sale and purchase. In 1938 the areas

    were approximately as follows: Norwegian owners 3,676 sq. km., British owners

    296 sq. km. and Soviet owners 251 sq. km.

            The conditions of mining in Spits–

    bergen show certain peculiarities. The ground is frozen to a depth of about

    1,000 feet and so gives ample roof support in the horizontal adits of which

    020      |      Vol_XIV-0097                                                                                                                  

    most mines consist. The mines are free from water and there is no risk of

    flooding. Ventilation is easy. Coal dust explosions have occurred but no

    fire damp disasters are recorded. Health is good. The frozen ground gives

    secure foundations for surface buildings. On the other hand, there are some

    drawbacks. All materials have to be imported. The country produces nothing

    of value to the miner except water and some building stone. Labor and food

    have also to be imported. Recreation is limited even with club rooms and

    cinemas in the largest camps, and the employees tend to become restive and

    long for civilized amenities. To some the long winter night is depressing.

    In the latitude of the chief mines in Isfjorden the sun is below the horizon

    for 112 days, from October 26 to February 17. The export season of the coal,

    owing to pack ice and darkness is from about May 1 to November 1. With the

    use of icebreakers it might be extended. [ ?] Mining, however, goes on through–

    out the winter.

            The following statistics of export of coal from Svalbard were pre–

    pared by the Norsk Polarinstitutt, Oslo, in 1948.


    Export of coal from Svalbard in metric tons

    from companies no longer in existence

    Arctic Coal Co., Boston (American) 1907-15 . . . . 146,690
    Spitsbergen Coal and Trading Co. Ltd.,Sheffield (English 1908 . . . . . 4,000
    Svenska Stenkolsaktiebolaget SpetsbergenStockholm (Swedish) 1918-25 . . . . 444,722
    Anglo Grumant Co. Ltd., London(English-Russian) 1920-26 . . . . 62,200
    N.V. Nederlandsche Spitsbergen Com-pagnie, Rotterdam (Dutch) 1921-25 . . . . 192,200
    A/S De Norske Kulfelter Spitsbergen(Norwegian) 1918-27 . . . . 44,280

    020a      |      Vol_XIV-0098                                                                                                                  

    A/S Isefjord Kulkompani (Norwegian 1920 . . . . 2,000
    A/S Russiske Kulfelter [ ?] i Green Har–

    bour Spitsbergen (worked by Norweg–

    ians and for Norwegian capital)
    1918-20 . . . . 27,900



    Existing Companies, partly working

    Björnöen A/S (Norwegian) 1919-25 . . . . 116,829
    Kings Bay Kull Comp. A/S(Norwegian) 1917-29 and 1946-48 . . . 951,890
    Norske Kulfelter A/S(Norwegian) 1939-40 . . . 3,903
    Store Norske Spitsbergen Kul-Kompani A/S, Oslo (Norwegian) 1916-41 and 1945-48 . . . 5,115,905
    Arktik Arktik Ugol (Soviet) 1931-41 . . .1948 ca. . . 2,425,625 25,000
    Total export, including

    bunkers 1907-48
    Export from Norwegian coal mines [ ?] in Svalbard 1907-48 6,262,707
    Export from foreign mines 1907-48 3,300437

            Tourist Traffic . Attempts to make a tourist resort in Spitsbergen began in

    1871 when a small Norwegian steamer took tourists for a round-trip voyage.

    But in those days the old evil reputation of the Arctic for scurvy, starva–

    tion, and unendurable cold still reigned supreme; the old myths were hard

    in dying. Lord Dufferin g in 1856 and J. Lamont in 1876 revealed new and

    beautiful and easily reached cruising ground. In 1890 a German skipper

    started an annual trip to Spitsbergen and his success prompted rivals to work on a

    020b      |      Vol_XIV-0099                                                                                                                  

    larger scale. In 1893 the Hamburg-Amorika Company ran a cruise, in 1894 the

    Orient Steamship Company, and in 1895 the P. & O. Company did the same. In

    1896 the Vestersalen Dampskib A/S during summer sent a small weekly steamer

    from Tromsö to Advent Bay where they had an alpine hotel accommodating

    25 persons. The service was continued in 1897 and then abandoned. Then

    for some years the tourist traffic was catered for mainly by large German

    liners and an occasional French

    021      |      Vol_XIV-0100                                                                                                                  

    one as well as smaller Norwegian steamers. From 1920 the traffic greatly

    increased in volume and British companies took an active share with several

    large luxury liners. West coast bays alone were visited. In 1938 and 1939

    some of the abandoned dwelling houses in Kongsfjorden (Ny Aalesund) were

    termed Nordpol Hotel. The government vessel making regular journeys between

    Tromsö and Spitsbergen usually called there.



            Among scores of volumes in a dozen languages, a selection of some

    of the more useful are noted:


    Mainly Descriptive

    Binney, G. With Seaplane and Sledge in the Arctic , 1925 Conway, W.M. The First Crossing of Spitsbergen , 1897 Glen, A.R. and Croft, A.C. Under the Pole Star , 1937 Gordon, S. Amid Snowy Wastes , 1922 Lamont, J. Seasons with the Sea Horses , 1861 ---------- Yachting in Arctic Seas , 1876


    Historical and Scientific

    H.W. Ahlmann and

    E. Sverdrup "Scientific Results of the Norwegian Swedish Expedition

    in 1934," Geografisker Annaler , Stockholm, 1935 and 1938 Andersson, Gunnar "Spetsbergens koltillg å ngar och Sveriges kolbehof,"

    Ymer , Arg. 37, 1917, Stockholm, 1918. pp. 201-48 Berr, M. R. "Les gisements de charbon du Spitsberg," Ann. Min. ,

    Paris, 1914.

    022      |      Vol_XIV-0101                                                                                                                  

    Blake, C. T. (ed) The True and Perfect Description of Three Voyages

    (Including that of Barents), Hakluyt Society, 1853 Cadell, H. M. "Coal Mining in Spitsbergen," Trans . Inst. Min. Engrs.,

    Vol. 60, pt. 2. Newcastle-upon Tyne, 1920. pp. 119-142 Conway, W [ ?] .M. (ed) Early Dutch and English Voyages to Spitsbergen ,

    Hakluyt Society, 1904 ----- No Man's Land , 1906 ----- Spitzbergen Handbuch , Berlin, 1926 Dole, Nathan H. Americans in Spitsbergen , Boston, 1922 Gray, L. H. Spitsbergen and Bear Island (for official use)

    Washington, 1919 Hoel, Adolf "The Coal Deposits and Coal Mining of Svalbard (Spits–

    bergen and Bear Island," Result . Norske Spitsbergen–

    eksped., Bd. 1, Nr. 6. Oslo, 1925 Horn, Gunnar "Beiträge zur Kenntnis der Kohle von Svalbard (Spitz

    bergen und der Bäreninsel)," Skr. Svalbard og Ishavet, [ ?]

    Nr. 17. Oslo, 1928. -----. and "Geology of Bear Island with special reference to the

    Orvin, Anders K. Coal Deposits, and with an account of the History of

    the Island," Skr. Svalbard og Ishavet., Nr. 15. Oslo 1928 Knothe, H. "Spitzbergen," Petermann's Mitteilungen Evganzungschaft

    No. 211, Gotha, 1931 Kotlukov, V.A. "The Geological Structure and Coal Deposits of Barents–

    burg and of the Boheman Tundra (Western Spitsbergen),"

    Trans. Leningrad Geol. Trust, Fasc. 11. Leningrad–

    Moscow, 1936. [In Russian with English summary.] Laing, J. An Account of a Voyage to Spitzbergen, 1815 Lutkevich, E.M. "Geology of the Tertiary Coal-bearing Deposits of Spits–

    bergen in the Ice-Fjord Region," Trans. Arctic Inst.,

    Vol. 76. Leningrad, 1937. [In Russian with English

    summary.] pp. 7-24 ----- "Geological Survey and the Problems of the Coal Fields

    of Mount Pyramid, Spitsbergen Island," Ibid . pp. 25-38.

    [In Russian with English summary.] Nansen, Fridtjof En Ferd til Spitsbergen , Kristiania, 1920 ---- The Spitsbergen Treaty , 1920

    023      |      Vol_XIV-0102                                                                                                                  

    Orvin, Anders K. "Geology of the Kings Bay Region, Spitsbergen, with

    special reference to the Coal Deposits," Skr. Svalbard

    og [ ?] Ishavet., Nr. 57. Oslo, 1934 ----- "Outline of the Geological History of Spitsbergen,"

    Skr. Svalbard og [ ?] Ishavet, No. 78, Oslo, 1940 ----- "Bibliography of Literature about the Geology, Physical

    Geography, Useful Minerals, and Mining of Svalbard,"

    Skr. Norges Svalbard-og Ishavs-unders o kelser, Nr. 89.

    Oslo, 1947. [In this paper is found all literature

    about coal deposits, coal mining, coal production, coal

    analyses, and mineral deposits.] Rudmose-Brown, R.N. The Polar Regions , 1927 ----- Spitsbergen , 1920 Sindballe, K. Report Concerning Claims to Land in Svalbard , Copenhagen

    and Oslo, 1927. [Report and Atlas] White, A. (ed) A Collection of Documents on Spitsbergen and Greenland ,

    1855 . Haklwyt Society Wieder, C. The Dutch Discovery and Mapping of Spitsbergen ,

    Amsterdam, 1919

            Many of the above have Bibliographies. See also the periodicals,

    Skrifter om Svalbard og Ishavet , Oslo, 1922 onward, and The Polar Record ,

    Cambridge (England), 1931 and onward.


    R. N. Rudmose-Brown

    001      |      Vol_XIV-0103                                                                                                                  
    EA-Geog. Greenland-Svalbard

    Author: R. N. Rudmose Brown

    Date Received: 8/8/47

    No. of words: 300

    Prins Karls Forland (or Prince Charles For l e land) Island

            PRINS KARLS FORLAND or Prince Charles Foreland is the most westerly of the islands

    of the Spitsbergen group. It is 86 km. long and 5 to 11 km. wide and has an area

    of 650 sq. km. It is separated from the mainland by Forlandsundet which by rea–

    son of Forlandsrevet, a sandy reef across its northern part, is navigable only to

    small vessels. Prins Karls Forland is very mountainous rising to several summits

    of over a thousand metres, Monaco-fjellet (1081m), Jessiefjellet (1034m), Phipps–

    fjellet ( [ ?] 1022m.) etc. On both sides the island has a wide belt of lowland

    which inorigin is a raised beach: it is interrupted in several places by shallow

    lagoons and in the southern half extends across the island for a distance of

    fifteen kilometres. On the east side of the island large glaciers descend to

    the sea; the west side is almost clear of ice. There are no natural harbors ex–

    cept for small vessels. The rocks are mainly shales, limestone and quartzites

    of the Hecla Hock formation with a small [ ?] area of tertiary rocks on Forland–

    sundet against the "Bar" or Forlandsrevet. Str e u cturally the island is part of the

    old Caledonian folds reelevated in tertiary times and separated by down faulting

    from the mainland. A little iron ore has been reported but the deposits are not

    of great value. There is no coal. Norwegian trappers used to winter on the

    island until the foxes were almost exterminated. There are now no reindeer and

    bears seldom visit the island since pack-ice does not often reach it. Barents

    saw the island in 1596 and thought it to be part of the mainland. Many casual

    landings, including small whaling stations are recorded. Scoresby who landed

    and J. Lamont give descriptions but no systematic exploration of the island was

    made before W. S. K Bruce's (q.v.) expedition of 1906. This was followed by later

    expeditions which resulted in a detailed map by W.S. Bruce and J. Mathieson pub–

    lished in 1913. See also works [ ?] cited under SPITSBERGEN.

    001      |      Vol_XIV-0104                                                                                                                  
    Author: R. N. Rudmose Brown

    500 words.

    Noraustlandet (or North-East Land)

            NORDAUSTLANDET , or North-East Land, so called from its position in the Spitsbergen

    or Svalbard group of which it is the second largest island with an area of

    15,000 sq. km. Pack ice from the north makes it inaccessible in many months

    and sometimes throughout the year. This difficulty of access delayed its ex–

    ploration until recent years. The greater part of the island is smothered

    with ice lying in five masses, Vestfonna, Austfonna, Sörfonna, Glitnefonna

    and Vegafonna of which the highest is 600-700 metres. On the east and south the

    ice caps meet the sea and calve off the largest icebergs that Spitsbergen produces.

    On the north and west coasts which are indented by long fjords there is much ice

    free land. The island is almost cut into two by Wahlenbergfjorden and Ri p j pfjorden

    and between the heads of the two there are 20 km. of ice free land. The struc–

    ture of the islands is one of Hecla Hoek (?), granite, schists and limestone,

    now thought to belong to the early Palaeozoic age. The southern part is built

    of Carboniferous strata covered by a sill of dolomite. Raised beaches are a

    marked feature. Under the ice domes the land surface probably rises as high as

    500 metres. The climate is severe and more continental than in West Spitsbergen.

    The ice area is not large enough to cause a permanent high pressure area. At–

    lantic "lows" not infrequently cross the island. Strong winds are chiefly from

    the south. Precipitation is as high as 700-800 mm. on the plateau. Temperature

    may fall below freezing point in every month. The extreme winter minimum recorded,

    at sea level, is -26°F. The mean of the warmest months is 38.2°F. for August.

    There is, however, a great lack of detailed records.

            Vegetation except near bird cliffs is scanty. In summer there are large

    colonies of fulmars, kittiwakes, terns guillemots, [ ?] Brent geese, eider ducks

    002      |      Vol_XIV-0105                                                                                                                  

    and ivory gulls as well as fewer snow buntings, purple sandpipers, divers, grey

    phaleropes etc. Ptarmigan are not numer u o us. Birds start to migrate southward

    by mid-August. Foxes and reindeer are few but bears and seals are fairly nu–

    merous. Walrus are now rare. The whole island by virtue of its structure is

    outside the area of mining claims and has never been much frequented by trappers.

            The island first appears as Sir Thomas Smith's Island on Edge's map of 1625.

    In Dutch maps of the seventeenth century the coasts gradually emerged but their

    accurate survey was late. Parry did a little in 1827, A.E. Nordenskjöld in 1864,

    a few Norwegian sealers at times. B. Leigh Smith in 1871, Nordenskjöld, with the

    first crossing of the interior in 1872-73 and the Swedish Arc of Meridian Ex–

    pedition in 1901. But the systematic exploration of the island was the work

    of H. W. Ahlmann's Swedish-Norwegian Expedition in 1931, A. R. Glen's Oxford

    Expedition in 1935-36 and the Norwegian Government aerial survey in 1938.

    Surveys revealed a huge advance of ice on a 21 km. front on the south coast

    between 1936 and 1938.

            See works on Spitsbergen and A.R. Glen UNDER THE POLE STAR, 1937, and


    EXPEDITION OF 1931, 2 vols. Stockholm, 1934 and 1936.

    001      |      Vol_XIV-0106                                                                                                                  
    Author: R. N. Rudmose Brown'

    80 words.


            KVITOYA , White Island, or Giles Land, lies east of Spitsbergen. It has an area

    of 250 sq. km. and is covered with an ice sheet except at its western and

    northern tips. Schist and gneiss are the foundation rocks. The island is

    undoubtedly the land reported by Giles in 1707. It was examined in detail only

    in 1930 when G. Horn and others found the remains of S. A. Andree (q.v.) and

    his companions who had perished there after the wreck of their balloon in 1897.

    See The Andree Diaries , 1931.

    001      |      Vol_XIV-0107                                                                                                                  
    Author: R. N. Rudmose Borwn

    150 words.

    Kong Karls Land (or Wiches Land)

            KONG KARLS LAND or Wiches Land is a group of small islands with a total area

    of 331 sq.km. lying on the east of Spitsbergen. They are flat topped with

    hard dolerite capping sandstone and shales. Altitudes reach 200 to 300 m.

    There are some small glaciers. Lowlands are wet and boggy in summer. Bears

    [ ?] visit the islands in winter when the pack surrounds them; foxes are few.

    In 1617 a land was discovered to the east of Spitsbergen as far north as 79°

    N. and called Edge Eiches Land. In 1864 A. E. Nordenskjöld and N. Duner re–

    discovered this land but took it to be Giles Land, now Kvitöya. In 1870 von Heuglin

    named the islands for the King of Würtemberg but in 1872 H. Mohn referred them

    to another Karl, the King of Sweden and Norway. There is little doubt that

    the true name is Wiches Lend. The most thorough exploration was by A. G.

    Nathorst's Swedish expedition in 1898.

    001      |      Vol_XIV-0108                                                                                                                  
    AUTHOR: R. N. Rudmose Brown

    Received 8/8/47

    160 words.


            BARENTSöYA is an island on the east of theSpitsbergen group with an area of

    1300 sq. km. separated from Vest Spitsbergen by the narrow head of Storfjorden.

    It is part of the plateau of eastern Spitsbergen built of almost horizontal

    strata of sandstone, shales and limestone and a few dolerite sills. There

    are several glaciers particularly on the east. The Duckwith glacier on the

    southwest has shown violent fluctuations in recent years, advancing over the

    low Anderssonöyane and then receding and leaving them clear of ice. There are

    no good harbors or even anchorages. The interior was little known until it

    was aerially surveyed by Norway in 1936. The island as a peninsula appeared

    on the Muscovy Company's map of 1625 and the Giles and Rep map of 1710. It

    was only in 1859 that J. Lemont (q.v.) found Heleysundet to be a strait. The

    Russian-Swedish Arc of Meridian Expedition fixed points only on the west coast.

    001      |      Vol_XIV-0109                                                                                                                  
    Author: R. N. Rudmose Brown

    Received: 8/8/47.

    200 words.


            EDGEÖYA is a large island on the southeast of the Spitsbergen group with

    an area of about 5150 sq. km. It is separated from Vest Spitsbergen by the

    wide Storfjord. Part of the plateau of eastern Spitsbergen, it is built of

    horizontal beds of sandstone and shale with a few dolerite sills. The west–

    ern and central parts, comprising more than half the island, are ice free. Domes

    of dead ice, showing conditions of waning glaciation, rise to 600 m. Several

    raised beaches at different levels afford good travelling surfaces. Anchorages

    are poor and there are no good harbors; the east coast should be avoided. Sum–

    mer is a period of gales and fog; winter is quieter and cold. Access by sea

    is often hindered by pack ice. Vegetation is scanty. Foxes, reindeer, and

    bears are found. Wolves [ ?] used to be numerous among the archipelago of

    Tusenöyane (Thousand Island). Russian trappers huts occur in many places on

    the coast. EDGEÖYA was probably discovered by Edge in 1616 but may have been

    sighted by the Dutchman Carolus in 1614 and called by him Morfyn. The Russian–

    Swedish Arc of Meridian Expedition fixed some points on the west in 1899-1901

    and the Cambridge Expedition under H.G. Watkins in 1927 made useful surveys

    but the final mapping was not completed until Norwegians did it from the air

    in 1936.

    001      |      Vol_XIV-0110                                                                                                                  
    Author: R.N. Rudmose Brown

    400 words.

    Hopen (Hope or Seahorse Island)

            HOPEN, Hope or Seahorse Island, is a small detached island of the Svalbard

    group lying 125 nautical miles due east of South Cape (Sörkapp) and 47 nauti–

    cal miles S.S.E. of Edge Island. Its exact position is now accepted as lat.

    76° 35′N., long. 25° 30′E. This differs from earlier positions including

    that of Iversen in 1924. It is a long narrow strip of land 37 kilometr ¯ es in

    length and three quarters to two kilometeres wide with a total area of 46 sq.

    kilometers. In structure it is a detached fragment of the plateau of eastern

    Spitsbergen and is built of horizontal layers of soft Cretaceous rocks rising

    to flat topped hills of which the highest is Iversenfjellet, 365 metres, at

    the south end. Nearly everywhere the island meets the sea in steep cliffs but

    in places where there are raised beaches landing is possible when the sea is

    calm. Wave action is very destructive and in time will reduce the island to

    a shoal. The coasts are clear of rocks, but are fringed with shallow water.

    There is no evidence of the occurrence of coal or other minerals of value.

    There are no glaciers.

            Vegetation is scanty; the twenty species of flowering plants occur

    also on Spitsbergen. Mosses and lichen s are numerous. The fox has been seen

    and the polar bear comes in winter when pack-ice may invest the island. [ ?]

    Walrus used to be abundant but are now scarce. Guilletmots, glaucous gulls, kit–

    tiwakes, skuas, sandpipers and eider ducks frequent the islands. There are

    ruins of a few trappers huts of long ago.

            Hopen according to Edge was discovered in 1613 but the Dutch may have

    known it some years earlier. It appears with varying shape and position on

    several English and Dutch charts on some of which anchorages are mar c ked. J.

    Payer landed in 1876 and writes of rocks on the coasts and mentions the [ ?]

    002      |      Vol_XIV-0111                                                                                                                  

    abundant driftwood. A.G. Nathorst in 1898 was unable to land but the same

    year W.S. Bruce landed from t he Prince of Monaco's yacht. Norwegians failed

    to get ashore in 1920 but twice in 1924 and in 1926 Th. Iversen landed and

    explored the island making at l e a st a satisfactory map. Further work was done

    in 1939 by Th. Askheire.

            The best account is by Th. Iversen "Hopen" Res. Av de Norske

    Statsunder-Stöttede Spitsbergenekspeditioner
    Bind I, Nr. 10, Oslo, 1926

    (In English)

    001      |      Vol_XIV-0112                                                                                                                  
    Author: R. N. Rudmose Brown

    Received 8/8/47

    No. of words: 1,000

    Björnöya (or Bear Island)

            BJÖRNÖYA or Bear Island is a small isolated lying between Norway

    (240 miles) and Spitsbergen (120 miles) and is regarded as one of the Sval–

    bard group. It extends between lat. 74° 20′N. and 74° [ ?] 31′N. and between

    long. 18° 46′E. and 19° 17′E. Its total area is 178 sq. kilometres. The

    island is roughly triangular and rises to 536 metres in the highest of the

    three summits of Miseryfjellet. The north is a plain area lying at an ele–

    vation of about 30 to 45 metres above sea level, an area of bare Carbonifer–

    ous sandstone, limestone and shale with scabbered rock fragments, many wind–

    ing unnavigable streams and a great number of shallow lakes of which the

    largest is Laksvat with a depth of 2 to 3 metres. The southern [ ?] part is

    mountainous with several summits and wide valleys and a few deep lakes. The

    who e le island meets the sea in steep cliffs 24 to over 300 metres in height.

    Mount Misery has cliffs of 425 metres. [ ?] On the stepping of the horizontal

    beds many sea birds find nesting places. Off the coast there are many pro–

    minent stacks. Geologically Björnöya is a detached part of the belt of Cale–

    donian foldings of western Norway and western Spitsbergen and is built of

    Hec k la Hock shales, dolomites and limestones on the peneplained surface of

    which were laid down, Devonian, Carboniferous and since eroded Triassic rocks.

    In Te r t iary times a great upheaval occurred and the present small island

    since isolated by erosion alone remains between the larger areas in Norway

    and Spitsbergen. There are numerous levels of ancient beaches. At present

    there are no glaciers but signs of former glaciation are numerous. Landslides

    in the mountainous part are frequent. There are no good harbors and access

    to the interior is gnerally difficult. On the east and north are the places

    with easiest access. The coal miners had great difficulty in finding an

    outlet for their coal. Austerväg which was used had little advantage

    002      |      Vol_XIV-0113                                                                                                                  

    except that it is on the eastern or lee side. Kvalrossbukta, further south,

    offers anchorage for [ ?] small vessels and easy access to the interior, but has

    a rock studded entrance. Herwighamna on the north may be a useful anchorage

    for small vessels.

            Pack-ice from the east of Spitsbergen is driven south to envelope

    Björnöya especially in April, May and June. July, August and September are

    months when the island is almost certain to be icefree, but such conditions

    may [ ?] persist throughout the year. On the west the warm Svalbard drift

    keeps open the waters on the Spitsbergen Bank. British trawlers now work

    on the Spitsbergen Bank within sight of Bear Island. The climate is most

    unattractive. Winter is a time of strong Atlantic gales with low cloud, mist

    rain with means below freezing point from October to May and [ ?] er very much

    above. Summer has a few clear and warm days but the highest recorded tempera–

    ture is 61° F in August. The lowest record is -26° F in March. The driest

    period is April to August but all months have some precipitation with a to–

    tal for the year of 330 mm. Snow falls as a rule from October to May.

            Vegetation is poor and un v e ven but rich near bird cliffs. The flora,

    with some fifty species of flowering plants, is a third of that of Spits–

    bergen but very closely related. There are many mosses and lichens. There

    are foxes but no reindeer. Bears visit the island in winter. Fulmar guille–

    monts and other sea birds, as in Spitsbergen, nest in myriads in summer.

    All animal life, except the glaucous gull, is protected (?) throughout the islan d.

            The Norse discovery of Svalbard in 1194 may have been Björnöya but

    was more likely Spitsbergen. At any rate Heemskerck and Barents found the

    island in 1596 before discovering Spitsbergen and called it T'veeve Eylandt

    (Bear Island). A landing was made. In 1603 S. Bennet, in ignorance of the

    Dutch discovery, called it Cherrie Island, after the patron of his voyage.

    003      |      Vol_XIV-0114                                                                                                                  

    In 1605Bennet was back and collected some lead ore and named a mountain, but not

    the present bearer of that name, Mount Misery. Bennet made several further voyages

    in search of walrus. In 1609 J. Poole claimed the island for the Muscovy Company

    of London. [ ?] No doubt it was frequently visited [ ?] during the seventeenth

    century which was a prolific period in Spitsbergen whaling but there are few

    records. The first record of wintering was in 1700 by a Dutch shipwrecked crew.

    During the eighteenth century Russian trappers often wintered but have left few

    records except their well built huts and a few graves. They called it Medved

    which means the Bear. In the end of that century Norwegian trappers began to

    displace the Russian winterers. B. M. Keilhau of Oslo University was the first

    scientist to visit Björnöya (1827). S. Tobieson, a Norwegian hunter in 1865-66

    took the f o i rst meteorological observations. In 1864 and 1868 A.E. Nordenskjöld

    and in 1870 A. G. Nathorst and other Swedish scientists were there. A more

    thorough exploration was that of C. J. O. Kjellström, A. Hamberg and J.G.

    Andersson in 1898 [ ?] and 1899. In late years Norwegian surveyors and others

    have practically completed the exploration of the island as part of the general

    survey of Norway's Arctic territory of Svalbard (q.v.). The [ ?] Oxford expedition

    to Spitsbergen in 1923 spent some days at Björnöya. There have been many other

    investigators but most of them were concerned chiefly with the mineral wealth and

    the use of the islands as a whaling base. In 1898 a German party made the

    first claim to supposed coal bearing [ ?] land. Next year this claim was expanded

    to more valuable land and further activit i y continued intermittently with a

    certain degree of contention among rival German firms, the one seeking coal and

    the other bases for fishing interests. A challenge to these claims came from

    Russians in 1899 at intervals up to 1921 and the Russian claims were possibly

    related to political ambition. From 1903 to 1908 there was a Norwegian whaling

    station at Kvalrossbu t k ta and little was heard of the coal until 1915 when war

    conditions cut off the import of British coal to Norway. Björöyen Kulkompagni

    004      |      Vol_XIV-0115                                                                                                                  

    of Stavanger then claimed the whole island, buying up other authentic claims.

    This company mined coal until 1925 when the mine at Tunheins was closed down.

    The wireless station erected in 1919 and meteorological observatory built in 1923

    were then taken over and continued by the Norwegian government. The coal is of

    Carboniferous age and is good coking coal, but the seams are thin and the ash

    content is high. There were never more than 200 men employed and the total

    export, all to Norway, was 50,330 tons. A few tons of galena have also been

    mined. The political destineis of the islands are bound up with those of

    Spitsbergen but it has never had much interest to rival powers. The Muscovy

    Company's claim in 1609 was never pressed and there were no Dutch or Danish

    claims. Both Germany and Russia, in spite of semi-official visits disavowed

    political aims and neither Norway nor [ ?] Sweden seemed much interested until Björn–

    öya was included in the Spitsbergen Treaty of 1920 and put under Norwegian


            See volumes on Spitsbergen . Also G. Horn and A. K. Orvin GEOLOGY OF BEAR


    Oslo, 1928, and The Survey of Björnöya, Skrifter , No. 86. Oslo 1944.

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