Fonna (Norwegian) = Ice cap
General: Wahlenbergfjord, named after a 19th century Swedish scientist, cuts deep into Nordaustland and is often blocked by fast or drift ice until late in the summer. The northern and innermost parts are uncharted and accordingly rarely visited. Kløverbladbukta in innermost Wahlenbergfjord is an area with large polar desert areas and great views to the surrounding ice caps and glaciers. More easily accessible, regarding ice and charts, is Palanderbukta, a branch on the southern side, which has several possible landing sites which allow for interesting walks as well as longer hikes (for example Palanderdalen or Zeipelodden).
Hiking in moraine terrain in Palanderbukta.
Selanderneset at the entrance to Wahlenbergfjord. Erosion has cut the horizontal sediment layers into vertically protruding towers. Dolerite sill on top.
Geology: Precambrian basement rocks on the northern side of Wahlenbergfjord, consisting of non- to weakly metamorphic, deformed (mostly steeply dipping) sediments (multi-coloured quarzites and carbonates). As many other islands in Hinlopen, Guldénøyane are dolerite islands. South of Wahlenbergfjord, you will find horizontal layers of younger carbonate rocks (Permian), which are often rich in fossils such as Brachiopodes and sponges. Dioritic intrusions often form the tops of the plateau-shaped mountains.
Recommended book for further, well-digestable (really!) info about geology and landscape of Svalbard.
Glacier front in Wahlenbergfjord.
Landscape: Wide-open landscape, the interiour of which is almost completely glacier-covered, and so is the coast in wide sections, also there are ice-free parts to be found, especially around Palanderbukta and on the south coast of Wahlenbergfjord, although the terrain is mostly rather steep there. Flat and easily accessible terrain can be found in Palanderbukta, especially Palanderdalen and south of Zeipelodden, and around Kløverbladbukta.
Barren polar desert environment with ice wedges, Palanderbukta.
Flora and Fauna: The ice-free ground is mostly barren polar desert, as is typical for Nordaustland, and vegetation is very scarce. The fauna is accordingly high-arctic. A few hardy reindeer, usually rather shy, are roaming the emptyness, and polar bears may be met with at any time, especially when there is drift ice in the area. There used to be small breeding colonies of Ivory gullson the southern coast of Wahlenbergfjord, but they have apparently moved elsewhere in the region or are possibly lost.
Svalbard poppy (Papaver dahlianum), Palanderbukta.
History: Wahlenbergfjord was visited on several occasions by scientific expeditions, mostly Swedish, during the 19th century, but has never been the main area of attention and is, accordingly, not very interesting from a historical point of view. One wintering station of Norwegian trappers is known from the 1930s (the main wintering hut was in Augustabukta), but this adventure resulted in a tragedy. The ruin of the hut can still be seen near the coast in Palanderdalen.
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