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Barentsøya map

Gene­ral: Barent­søya (‘Barents-Island’). Land area appro­xi­m­ate­ly 1300 km2, 50 km long and wide. Named after Wil­lem Barents, the ‘offi­ci­al’ dis­co­ve­rer of Spits­ber­gen. Barent­søya is very simi­lar to Edgeøya; tho­se two islands are sepa­ra­ted by the scenic Free­man­sund, which is only a few kilo­me­t­res wide. Barent­søya is often sur­roun­ded by ice well into the sum­mer. Tog­e­ther with Edgeøya, it is part of the Sou­the­ast Sval­bard Natu­re reser­ve and thus pro­tec­ted (see rules).

For more, detail­ed infor­ma­ti­on: the Gui­de­book Spits­ber­gen-Sval­bard

Guidebook Spitsbergen-Svalbard

Southern side of Barentsøya in Freemansund

Sou­thern side of Barent­søya in Free­man­sund with typi­cal land­scape of pla­teau-shaped hills and moun­ta­ins and Free­man­breen (-glet­scher).

Geo­lo­gy: Same as Edgeøya. Rather uni­form Tri­as­sic sedi­ments (lower Meso­zoic, 205-250 mil­li­on years ago), sand-, silt- and clay­stone. The­se were depo­si­ted in shal­low shelf seas and near the coast (del­ta sedi­ments etc.), part­ly in an anoxic (lack of oxy­gen) envi­ron­ment, thus rich in orga­nic mat­ter and often rather dark in appe­re­an­ce. The sedi­ments are lar­ge­ly unde­for­med, the lay­ers have more or less kept their ori­gi­nal, hori­zon­tal posi­ti­on. Some lay­ers are very rich in fos­sils (ammo­ni­tes, shells etc.). Some of the del­taic sand­sto­nes con­tain thin coal seams, but due to their low quan­ti­tiy and qua­li­ty, they are not of eco­no­mic inte­rest.

Within the tri­as­sic sedi­ments, the­re is one lay­er of black paper shale which often forms steep cliffs, visi­ble for exam­p­le on both sides of the Free­man­sund. Whe­re small rivers are cut­ting through it, the­re are often litt­le can­yons (Free­man­sund, Dis­ko­buk­ta).

The­re are dole­ri­tic (‘basal­tic’) intru­si­ons in some places from the upper Juras­sic to Creta­ce­ous. Becau­se of their rela­ti­ve hard­ness, the­se intru­si­ons often form capes, islands and pro­tru­ding cliffs in other­wi­se rather gent­le slo­pes or, respec­tively, uni­form coast­li­nes.

Southwestern Barentsøya

Steep cliff of hard dole­ri­te. Sou­thwes­tern Barent­søya.

Recom­men­ded book for fur­ther, well-digesta­ble (real­ly!) info about geo­lo­gy and land­scape of Sval­bard.

Land­scape: As Edgeøya. Wide pla­teau-shaped moun­ta­ins and open val­leys. Less gla­cia­ti­on than in eas­tern Spits­ber­gen, which is hig­her and recei­ves more pre­ci­pi­ta­ti­on.

Click here for pan­ora­ma images of Barent­søya sce­n­ery.

Typical Barentsøya-Landscape

Typi­cal Barent­søya-Land­scape: Flat coas­tal plain with rich tun­dra and steep slo­pes com­po­sed of dole­ri­te in the back­ground.

Flo­ra and Fau­na: As Edgeøya, high arc­tic. The tun­dra is often very rich, alt­hough with less spe­ci­es than near the west coast of Spits­ber­gen. The rich tun­dra sup­ports a strong popu­la­ti­on of reinde­er. Steep cliffs (Tri­as­sic paper shales) are home to colo­nies of Kit­ti­wa­kes, which attract Arc­tic foxes. Important migra­ti­on and den­ning area for polar bears.

Reindeer at Sundneset, Barentsøya

Reinde­er at Sund­ne­set, Barent­søya.

Histo­ry: Into the 19th cen­tu­ry it was belie­ved that Barent­søya was part of Spits­ber­gen, until the nar­row Heley­sound was found. Much less visi­ted than Tusenøya­ne or Edgeøya by Pomors or trap­pers becau­se of the often hea­vy ice con­di­ti­ons, visits of wha­lers are unknown. The only win­tering of Nor­we­gi­an trap­pers took place south of Duck­witz­breen in the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry. The 1950s and 60s saw seve­ral rese­arch expe­di­ti­ons by the Ger­man geo­grapher Juli­us Büdel, who estab­lished his main field camp at Sund­ne­set, whe­re they built the ‘Würz­bur­ger Hüt­te’. They inves­ti­ga­ted high arc­tic land­scape deve­lo­p­ment such as per­ma­frost phe­no­me­na, frost shat­ter, soli­fluc­tion, post­g­la­cial landri­se etc (see Rocks and Ice).

Barent­søya (gal­lery)

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.



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last modification: 2014-10-28 · copyright: Rolf Stange