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Islands in Hinlopen Strait (Svalbard)

Wilhelmøya, Wahlbergøya and their smaller neighbours

Map: Islands in Hinlopen

Gene­ral: The­re is a lar­ge num­ber of smal­ler and some lar­ger islands in Hin­lo­pen. Most of the are very simi­lar, geo­lo­gi­cal­ly and topo­gra­phi­cal­ly, with the excep­ti­on of Wil­hel­møya that is quite dif­fe­rent. The coast­li­nes often form steep cliffs, but it is pos­si­ble to land on most of the islands except for some of the smal­lest ones. The advan­ta­ge is that the­re is often a lee-side whe­re landings can be made when other coasts are inac­ces­si­ble due to strong wind and waves, but keep your eyes well open for drif­ting ice and bears. Some of the dole­ri­te islands can be dif­fi­cult to walk on, and on Wil­hel­møya, soli­fluc­tion soil can be extre­me­ly mud­dy and sti­cky.

For more, detail­ed infor­ma­ti­on: the Gui­de­book Spits­ber­gen-Sval­bard

Guidebook Spitsbergen-Svalbard

Drift ice floe, iced-over shoreline and barren tundra on Nystrømøy)

Drift ice, ice-cover­ed shore­li­ne and bar­ren tun­dra on Nystrømøya.

Geo­lo­gy: Most­ly dole­ri­te (Jurassic/lower Creta­ce­ous), occa­sio­nal­ly remains of older car­bo­na­te sedi­ments (Per­mi­an; espe­ci­al­ly on Wah­ber­gøya).

Coarse dolerite boulders can make walking difficult (Franzøya)

Coar­se dole­ri­te bould­ers can make wal­king dif­fi­cult (Fran­zøya).

Wil­hel­møya is the excep­ti­on to the rule and con­sists of hori­zon­tal lay­ers of Juras­sic sedi­ments. It can be loo­ked at as the nor­t­hern out­lier of the Meso­zoic plat­form of sou­the­as­tern Sval­bard (Barent­søya, Edgeøya). Also on Wil­hel­møya, the pro­tru­ding capes and flat moun­tain tops usual­ly con­sist of dole­ri­te.

Mountains of Jurassic sediments with cover of former dolerite sill

Moun­ta­ins of Juras­sic sedi­ments with cover of for­mer dole­ri­te sill.

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

Old whalebone, mosses and lichens in dolerite tundra (Franzøya)

Old wha­le­bo­ne, mos­ses and lichens in dole­ri­te tun­dra (Fran­zøya).

Land­scape: Most of the­se islands are bar­ren and rocky. Lar­ge dole­ri­te bould­ers make wal­king dif­fi­cult in many places. Many slo­pes on Wil­hel­møya are cover­ed with very mud­dy, sti­cky, deep soli­fluc­tion soil which should be avo­ided. The light-colou­red Per­mi­an lime­s­tone pro­vi­des the easie­st ground to walk on, if pre­sent. On level ground which is not cover­ed with lar­ge bould­ers, you can often find fasci­na­ting dis­plays of arc­tic land­scape details such as frost pat­ter­ned ground, fos­sil beach rid­ges with old wha­le­bo­nes and so on, so the­re is always some­thing inte­res­t­ing to find.

Driftwood on the coast of Nystrømøya

Drift­wood on the coast of Nystrømøya.

Wil­hel­møya is the lar­gest island in Hin­lo­pen and the only one that has some moun­ta­ins and val­leys; here, the sce­n­ery reminds in some places of Franz Josef Land fur­ther east. As men­tio­ned, wea­the­red Juras­sic sedi­ments can be soft and mud­dy and should be avo­ided.

High-arctic impressions from Wilhelmøya

High-arc­tic impres­si­ons from Wil­hel­møya.

Barren tundra with some lichens and mosses (Guldénøya, Wahlenbergfjord)

Bar­ren tun­dra with some lichens and mos­ses (Gul­dé­nøya, Wahl­enberg­fjord).

Flo­ra and Fau­na: The­re is very litt­le vege­ta­ti­on in most are­as, but in some spots you can find sur­pri­sin­gly rich car­pets of colourful mos­ses and lichens. The­re are no reinde­er, but the­re are places whe­re wal­ru­ses creep ashore to rest, and it is not uncom­mon to find polar bears on the­se rocky islands. Some Brünich’s guil­l­emot colo­nies on stee­per cliff sec­tions.

The king of the arctic himself visiting Franzøya

The king of the arc­tic hims­elf visi­ting Fran­zøya.

Histo­ry: Most of the sci­en­ti­fic and hun­ting expe­di­ti­ons that went into Hin­lo­pen also visi­ted one or seve­ral of the islands, inclu­ding the famous Swe­dish explo­rer Adolf Erik Nor­dens­ki­öld. The Swe­dish branch of the Arc-de-Meri­di­an expe­di­ti­on map­ped Hin­lo­pen 1899-1904 and built cairns in many places, a lot of which can still be seen.

In more recent years, Kie­per­tøya which belongs to the group of Bas­tianøya­ne was the site of a tra­ge­dy when insuf­fi­ci­ent­ly armed crew mem­bers of a small ships went ashore for a walk and were atta­cked by a polar bear. One man was kil­led and ano­ther one bad­ly inju­red. The bear was later shot.

GaL­lery: Islands in Hin­lo­pen

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

Gal­lery: Wil­hel­møya

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



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last modification: 2019-03-26 · copyright: Rolf Stange