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Kvalvågen, Boltodden

Dinosaur footprints on the east coast of Spitsbergen

The bay Kval­vå­gen is on the east coast of Spits­ber­gen. It is easy to reach in win­ter by snow mobi­le (but this is only per­mit­ted for locals or with spe­cial per­mis­si­on). In sum­mer, the east coast is, well, not fur­ther away, but much more remo­te, as it is more dif­fi­cult to get the­re and the area is much more rare­ly visi­ted then. The rocky shore­li­ne does not exact­ly offer many well-shel­te­red lan­ding sites, and lan­dings are only pos­si­ble in calm wea­ther and sea con­di­ti­ons.

Boltodden, Kvalvågen

Lan­ding site at Bol­tod­den (Kval­vå­gen) on a not very hos­pi­ta­ble rocky coast.

The rocky shore­li­ne is geo­lo­gi­cal­ly inte­res­ting: the rocks are sand­stone, del­ta depo­sits of rivers that were flowing the­re almost 130 mil­li­on years ago (lower Cret­ace­ous), buil­ding up their river mouth sedi­ments over lar­ge are­as, simi­lar to the Mis­sis­sip­pi river del­ta today. This sand­stone can be found in many pla­ces in Spits­ber­gen, it is well known from several sites in Isfjord inclu­ding Bohe­man­nes­et (whe­re you can see the coal seams qui­te nice­ly) and Fest­nin­gen west of Grønfjord, whe­re this sand­stone, the “Fest­nin­gen sand­stone”, also got its name.

Kvalhovden, Kvalvågen

Coas­tal cliffs out­side at Kval­hov­den (viewing east) with lay­ers from the lower Cret­ace­ous: Hel­ve­tiaf­jel­let-for­ma­ti­on inclu­ding the Fest­nin­gen sand­stone at the bot­tom, over­lain by the Caro­lin­ef­jel­let-for­ma­ti­on with its dar­ker, more fine-grai­ned sedi­ments. Note­wor­thy are also the growth faults at the bot­tom: lar­ge blocks of sand­stone that moved wit­hin the sur­roun­ding mud which was not yet soli­di­fied, short­ly after depo­si­ti­on. In other words, faul­ting indu­ced by gra­vi­ta­ti­on and not by tec­to­nics.

To be pre­cise: the Fest­nin­gen sand­stone belongs to the Hel­ve­tiaf­jel­let for­ma­ti­on (named after a moun­tain in Advent­da­len), which again is part of the Advent­da­len group, to work our way through the local stra­ti­gra­phic hier­ar­chy. Inter­na­tio­nal­ly spea­king, the time of depo­si­ti­on of the Fest­nin­gen sand­stone hap­pen­ed during the Barremi­an (130.7-126.3 mil­li­on years ago), which is part of the lower Cret­ace­ous. Just in case you wan­ted to know.

Festningen-sandstone at Boltodden, Kvalvågen

Detail­ed view of the Fest­nin­gen sand­stone with cross bed­ding. Coast of Bol­tod­den, Kval­vå­gen.

Lagoon with mos­sy shore on the flat land near the coast at Bol­tod­den.

Hut at Boltodden, Kvalvågen

Hut at Bol­tod­den, Kval­vå­gen, view to the west.

This is the older one of two huts near the shore at Bol­tod­den. It was pro­bab­ly built in 1923 by the Bri­tish “Nort­hern Explo­ra­ti­on Com­pa­ny” (NEC) to claim the area in case coal or other mine­rals would be found later.

NEC-hut at Boltodden, Kvalvågen

The older (1923, NEC) hut at Bol­tod­den, Kval­vå­gen. Again viewing west, but now with the lagoon in the fore­ground and the gla­ciers (Strong­breen) in the back­ground.

Insi­de the 1923 NEC hut.

This more recent hut is a bit hig­her up from the coast. It was dama­ged in spring 2014, pro­bab­ly by a snow avalan­che. Hope it will be repai­red.

Hütte am Boltodden, Kvalvågen

Ruin of yet ano­t­her hut at Bol­tod­den, Kval­vå­gen. May­be the one built in 1909 for a win­te­ring by the hun­ters Einar Johan Peder­sen and Arne Jen­sen Som­merø. The lat­ter had to cut off some of his toes dama­ged by frost­bi­te during the win­ter, he left them in the hut when they left in August 1910. They rowed with a small boat all the way around Sør­kapp to Isfjord and Lon­gye­ar­by­en (then still Lon­gye­ar City) as no ship came to pick them up.

After a litt­le walk into the val­ley Kval­hovd­da­len and ascen­ding about 250 metres to the sou­thern end of the moun­tain ridge Kval­hov­den, you have this magni­ficent view all around you. The wide Storfjord to the east with Edgeøya on the hori­zon. The east coast of Spits­ber­gen stret­ching into the far distance to the north and south. The gla­cier Strong­breen, its fea­ture that most­ly deser­ves being descri­bed as “strong” being the strong retre­at of recent years, in the west. The best part of it all may be the rocky coast­li­ne that you have near­by, Bol­tod­den and Spo­rod­den.

The­se two last pan­ora­mas are from Spo­rod­den, some hund­red metres east of Bol­tod­den. The name (“track point”) is deri­ved from the dino­saur tracks, alt­hough they were actual­ly found at Bol­tod­den. The­se dino­saurs, car­ni­vo­r­ous ones as oppo­sed to the vege­ta­ri­an Igu­an­odons who left their tracks at the same time at Fest­nin­gen (Isfjord), wal­ked around here (which was fur­ther south) when the Fest­nin­gen sand­stone was still a soft river del­ta of white sand, sur­roun­ded by swam­p­lands with forests. Today, Spo­rod­den pro­vi­des an inte­res­ting, beau­ti­ful sce­ne­ry, with some mushroom-shaped sand­stone rocks qui­te remi­nis­cent of Colo­ra­do, if it was just a few degrees war­mer.

Dinosaur footprints at Boltodden, Kvalvågen.

Dino­saur foot­prints at Bol­tod­den, Kval­vå­gen. About 30 cm lar­ge foot­prints of the cret­ace­ous Igu­an­odon, a vege­ta­ri­an dino­saur spe­ci­es.

Moss campion

Moss cam­pi­on.

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last modification: 2019-04-29 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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