spitzbergen-3
fb  Spitsbergen Panoramas - 360-degree panoramas  de  en  nb  Spitsbergen Shop  
Marker

Isfjord

Spitsbergen's largest fjord: an overview

Map Isfjord

Clock­wi­se: T = Trygg­ham­na, P = Pyra­mi­den, L = Lon­gye­ar­by­en, G = Grum­ant­by­en, C = Cole­s­buk­ta, G = Grønfjord, B = Bar­ents­burg.

This page is just for a first over­view. The­re are more pages about various pla­ces in Isfjord which you can access by cli­cking on the map abo­ve or on the fol­lowing links:

For more, detail­ed infor­ma­ti­on: the Gui­de­book Spits­ber­gen-Sval­bard

Guidebook Spitsbergen-Svalbard

Gene­ral

Isfjord is Spitsbergen’s lar­gest fjord. It is cut­ting more than 100 km into the island with a lot of dif­fe­rent bran­ches. The land­s­cape and histo­ry are varied, and most sett­le­ments of Spits­ber­gen are here. The cli­ma­te is favoura­ble, at least for Sval­bard stan­dards, as the gulf stream keeps the fjord lar­ge­ly ice-free and tem­pe­ra­tures mild. The effect of incre­a­sing con­ti­nen­ta­li­ty is noti­ce­ab­le deeper in the fjord, with col­der win­ters and war­mer sum­mers. Whe­re­as the Isfjord was often com­ple­te­ly fro­zen during the late win­ter in the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry, this hap­pens today only in excep­tio­nal­ly cold years, but the smal­ler side fjords on the north side and in inner­most Isfjord (Bill­efjord, Tem­pel­fjord) still free­ze in most win­ters, alt­hough not as reli­ab­ly as in the 20th cen­tu­ry.

Most human acti­vi­ties in Sval­bard are con­cen­tra­ted in Isfjord, which puts some pres­su­re on the envi­ron­ment. This inclu­des mining, the sett­le­ments in gene­ral and a gro­wing tou­rism indus­try with a lot of snow mobi­le traf­fic in the late win­ter (late Febru­a­ry-ear­ly May).

Isfjord: Longyearbyen

Most of Spitsbergen’s sett­le­ments, such as Lon­gye­ar­by­en, are in the Isfjord area.

Pro­tec­ted are­as

The­re are several pro­tec­ted are­as in Isfjord, inclu­ding bird sanc­tua­ries, which may not be ent­e­red at all during the bree­ding sea­son (15 May-15 August). Make sure you know whe­re you may go and whe­re not – bounda­ries are not mar­ked in the field, the­re are no signs etc. As with ever­ything about Spits­ber­gen – refer to the gui­de­book Spits­ber­gen – Sval­bard (see pic­tu­re and link abo­ve) for fur­ther infor­ma­ti­on.

Geo­lo­gy

Varied. In this lar­ge area, almost the who­le geo­lo­gy of Sval­bard is repre­sen­ted from the base­ment over Devo­ni­an Old Red to Per­mo­car­bo­ni­fe­rous car­bo­na­tes and eva­po­ri­tes (anhy­dri­te and gypsym) to the Meso­zoic-Ter­tia­ry clastic sedi­ment cover. Becau­se of the steep dip of the stra­ta, you can find qui­te com­ple­te suc­ces­si­ons near the west coast wit­hin a small area, for examp­le the Fest­nin­gen sec­tion. In the west, the rocks have been stron­gly defor­med during the Alpi­dic oro­ge­ny in the lower Ter­tia­ry, whe­re­as the stra­ta are most­ly hori­zon­tal in cen­tral and eas­tern parts, at least on the south side of Isfjord. For fur­ther infor­ma­ti­on, see indi­vi­du­al are­as (click on the map).

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

Land­s­cape

Very varied due to dif­fe­ren­ces in geo­lo­gy and cli­ma­te. The­re are wide coas­tal plains at the west coast, behind which the­re is a gla­cia­ted, alpi­ne moun­tai­ne­ous sce­ne­ry on the nort­hern side of Isfjord. On the south side, the occur­rence of poin­ted moun­tains is more or less limi­ted to two N-S stret­ching moun­tain chains west of the Grønfjord. East of Grønfjord, the sce­ne­ry is domi­na­tey by the cha­rac­te­ris­ti­cal pla­teau-shaped moun­tains, which are top­ped by wide pla­teaus in 400-600 metres alti­tu­de. Only few moun­tains rise over this pla­teau level, showing what kind of rocks once cove­r­ed the who­le are with a thic­kness of many hund­red metres or pro­bab­ly kilo­me­tres, but have fal­len vic­tim to ero­si­on. Cen­tral and eas­tern parts of Nor­dens­kiöld Land (that is the area bet­ween Isfjord and Bellsund from the west coast almost to the east coast) fea­ture lar­ge ice-free val­leys with very rich tun­da are­as, more than any­whe­re else in Sval­bard. Thus, the area offers good hiking oppor­tu­nities also for lon­ger trek­kings, but cros­sing rivers can be very dif­fi­cult and even dan­ge­rous or impos­si­ble.

Isfjord landscape: Ymerbukta

Some typi­cal land­s­cape ele­ments in Isfjord (here seen in Ymer­buk­ta):
flat tun­dra (fore­ground), morai­ne (cent­re), gla­cier and moun­tains.

Nor­dens­kiöld Land bet­ween Isfjord and Bellsund is amongst the least gla­cia­ted are­as of Sval­bard, whe­re­as the­re is a num­ber of cal­ving fronts and a stron­gly gla­cia­ted ‘hin­ter­land’ on the nort­hern side of the Isfjord.

Sveabreen

Gla­cier in Isfjord (Sveab­reen).

Flo­ra and fau­na

The flo­ra is rich – at least for Sval­bard stan­dards – in many pla­ces, the­re are lar­ge tun­dra are­as espe­cial­ly on the coas­tal plains and in the lar­ge, ice-free val­leys. For examp­le, Cole­s­da­len and Reinda­len belong to the bio­lo­gi­cal­ly most pro­duc­ti­ve are­as of Sval­bard, with high bio­di­ver­si­ty, a den­se cover of thick vege­ta­ti­on and accord­in­gly a strong rein­de­er popu­la­ti­on, foxes, ptar­mi­gans etc.

On steep cliffs near the coast, the­re is a num­ber of bird colo­nies with Brünich’s Guil­lemots, Kit­ti­wa­kes and, in pla­ces, Puf­fins which are other­wi­se rather rare in Sval­bard. Polar bears may well be seen year-round, and it is not unusu­al to encoun­ter one also near the sett­le­ments, so the safe­ty rou­ti­nes – most import­ant­ly, appro­pria­te wea­pon and expe­ri­ence – have to be obser­ved ever­y­whe­re in Isfjord as soon as you set a foot out of any sett­le­ment.

Histo­ry

Long and varied. The­re are many remains of Pomor hun­ting sta­ti­ons, who may have been here befo­re Spits­ber­gen was dis­co­ve­r­ed by Wil­lem Bar­entsz in 1596. The name ‘Ice Sound’ was given in 1610 by the Eng­lish wha­ler Jonas Poo­le ‘becau­se it was cove­r­ed with Ice’ (makes sen­se, doesn’t it?).

During the 19th and 20th cen­tu­ry, a num­ber of sci­en­ti­fic expe­di­ti­ons have visi­ted the Isfjord that makes it impos­si­ble to men­ti­on all of them here. Nor­we­gi­an trap­pers have had their hun­ting ground here, a tra­di­ti­on that has part­ly sur­vi­ved until today. Legen­da­ry hun­ters such as Hil­mar Nøis and Arthur Oxaas lived in Isfjord for many years in the first half of the 20th cen­tu­ry. Mining star­ted in the late 19th cen­tu­ry, but most of the many litt­le mines didn’t sur­vi­ve the sta­ge of explo­ra­ti­on and tri­al mining. All of today’s sett­le­ments in the Isfjord were foun­ded as coal mining sett­le­ments, Bar­ents­burg and Lon­gye­ar­by­en are the ones which are still in use.

Isfjord gal­le­ry

Just a very few pic­tures for a first tas­te. As men­tio­ned abo­ve, the­re are more pages (click on the map or on the links at the top of this page) about various pla­ces wit­hin Isfjord.

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

Back

Kapp Linné Grønfjord, Colesdalen, Grumantbyen Adventfjord, Longyearbyen Tempelfjord, Sassenfjord Dickson Land, Billefjord Isfjord northern side

BOOKS, CALENDAR, POSTCARDS AND MORE

This and other publishing products of the Spitsbergen publishing house in the Spitsbergen-Shop.

last modification: 2020-10-07 · copyright: Rolf Stange
css.php