Murchisonfjord is a rather small fjord on the western side of Nordaustland, in the northern Hinlopen Strait. With its many small islands, its barren, desert-like landscapes, a geology that makes for some beautiful colours and structures as well as some of Svalbard’s oldest fossils, it is a unique area.
- Søre Russeøya
- Indre Russeøya
Kinnvika is certainly the most famous place in Murchisonfjord. Situated in a well sheltered bay on the northern side of the fjord, it was a research station built during the International Geophysical Year 1957-59 as a Swedish-Finnish effort. The station was quite substantial, with no less than 10 buildings spread over some area in case one of them would catch fire. An old amphibian vehicle is still there and some other stuff, some of it dating back to the Geophysical Year 1957-59, others is younger: in 2003-04, Marie Tieche and Hauke Trinks wintered in Kinnvika, and the station was put into use again, following the original intention of the place being a research area, during the latest International Polar Year of 2007-08, when scientists from 10 countries investigated the area in detail. The ice cap Vestfonna was an important focus of their work.
These two indoor panos are from the largest of the buildings in Kinnvika. Not much is left of the charme of an old polar station, it is quite empty and does not compare to the historical huts in Antarctica, which look as if their original inhabitants had left just yesterday.
And of course the Swedish and Finnish guys from 1957-59 did not forget to build a sauna! It is certainly the northernmost one in Svalbard.
Caribou is a bit west of Kinnvika, on the coast of Hinlopen Strait. The name seems locally unusual, seemingly indicating north American influence. It was built in 1972 by the Norwegians Fredrik Rubach and Odd Ivar Ruud, father and son, who wintered there subsequently to hunt polar bears. Polar bears were completely protected in Spitsbergen in 1973, and this was accordingly the last wintering of hunters on Nordaustland. Unfortunately, the hut is deteriorating, as you can see on the indoor panorama here, which was taken in 2013.
Søre Russeøya is the largest island in Murchisonfjord. Gently rolling elevations with good views over the landscape near and far; desert-like, barren, stony tundra with the occasional frost-patterned ground and fossils literally as old as the hills (much older, actually): upper proterozoic stromatholites, or in other words colonies of single-celled calcareous algae, not much younger than a billion years.
Indre Russeøya is smaller than Søre Russeøya, but maybe more varied in terms of landscape features. It is a bit more structured by rocky hills and has some beautiful bays and lagoons.
Kvalrosshalvøya ist a long peninsula with two branches in inner Murchisonfjord.
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