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Home → February, 2008

Monthly Archives: February 2008 − News & Stories

Seed vault offi­ci­al­ly ope­ned

On 26 Febru­ary the new seed vault or “Doomsday Vault” as it is often cal­led by the press was offi­ci­al­ly ope­ned. Loca­ted near Lon­gye­ar­by­en, it is sup­po­sed to be able to sur­vi­ve glo­bal cata­stro­phes inclu­ding nuclear wars, direct mis­sile attacks and extre­me cli­ma­te chan­ge. The pur­po­se is to store seeds of agri­cul­tu­ral plants to pre­ser­ve their diver­si­ty for future gene­ra­ti­ons in times of mas­si­ve loss of bio­di­ver­si­ty that we curr­ent­ly expe­ri­ence. The seed vault is Spitsbergen’s big­gest media issue sin­ce the Ita­lia-cata­stro­phe in 1928.

Ent­rance to the seed vault.

Deep in the moun­tain: the seed vault.

Seed vault officially opened

© both pho­tos: Mari Tefre/Global Crop Diver­si­ty.

For more infor­ma­ti­on, see: Glo­bal Crop Diver­si­ty Trust

Spec­ta­cu­lar finds of dino­saur ske­le­ton remains in the Isfjord area

Parts of dino­saur bones from Isfjord have been known sin­ce the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry, but things real­ly star­ted to hap­pen when Nor­we­gi­an pal­aen­to­lo­gists found remains of no less than 28 indi­vi­du­al mari­ne rep­ti­les near Dia­ba­sod­den (Tem­pel­fjord in Isfjord), dating to the Juras­sic (about 150 mil­li­on years old). Most of them are Icht­h­y­o­saurs that loo­ked more or less simi­lar to dol­phins, others are Ple­sioraurs, lar­ger pre­da­tive rep­ti­les. One Plio­saur (sub­group of Ple­si­o­saurs) must have been 15 met­res long and is thus the lar­gest of its kind that has been found so far, as has recent­ly been announ­ced.

Ske­le­ton of the “mons­ter”, as the 15 m lar­ge Plio­saur is inof­fi­ci­al­ly cal­led. Only the red parts have been found.

Plio­saur having break­fast, as “seen” by an artist.

Spectacular finds of dinosaur skeleton remains in the Isfjord area - data-lazy-src=

Field work at Knor­ring­fjel­let.

Spectacular finds of dinosaur skeleton remains in the Isfjord area - data-lazy-src=

Ear­th­qua­ke in Storfjord

Many inha­bi­tants of Lon­gye­ar­by­en woke up in the ear­ly night on 20 Febru­ary, when an ear­th­qua­ke made hou­ses shake noti­ce­ab­ly at 03.46 am. Dama­ge or inju­ries did not occur. The epi­cent­re was in Storfjord near the sou­the­as­tern coast of Spits­ber­gen, about 120 km away from Lon­gye­ar­by­en, near a geo­lo­gi­cal fault that may have been re-acti­va­ted due to stress cau­sed by move­ments at the midd­le Atlan­tic ridge sys­tem that is divi­ding the bot­tom of the oce­an into two dif­fe­rent tec­to­nic pla­tes in the Fram Strait (bet­ween Spits­ber­gen and Green­land). The ear­th­qua­ke was recor­ded with 6.2 on the Rich­ter sca­le – more than enough to cau­se dama­ge if it had hap­pen­ed on land in a more den­se­ly popu­la­ted area. The event is quite excep­tio­nal, as Spits­ber­gen is seis­mo­lo­gi­cal­ly most­ly quite calm, as oppo­sed to Ice­land, which is situa­ted direct­ly on top of the midd­le Atlan­tic ridge.

In March 2008, some minor cracks have been found at some buil­dings in Lon­gye­ar­by­en, which are belie­ved to date back to the ear­th­qua­ke. 

The appro­xi­ma­te posi­ti­on of the epi­cent­re is mark­ed with a red dot. Green sym­bols show the acti­ve sett­le­ments.
(© Kar­te Rolf Stan­ge)

Earthquake in Storfjord

For more infor­ma­ti­on, see: Nor­we­gi­an Polar insti­tute


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