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Adventfjord

Map Adventjord

Map: Advent­fjord and Lon­gye­ar­by­en.

Gene­ral

On this page, I am most­ly focus­sing on Advent­fjord rather than on the sett­le­ment of Lon­gye­ar­by­en its­elf. To descri­be Lon­gye­ar­by­en in detail would serious­ly go bey­ond the scope of this page – that’s what we’ve got the gui­de­book Spits­ber­gen – Sval­bard for 😉

Advent­fjord is the most den­se­ly popu­la­ted part of Sval­bard. Lon­gye­ar­by­en is resi­dence of the Nor­we­gi­an admi­nis­tra­ti­on (Sys­sel­man­nen = Gou­ver­nour), ser­vices and infra­st­ruc­tu­re (air­port, port, hos­pi­tal, shops, hotels etc), sci­ence and edu­ca­ti­on (uni­ver­si­ty UNIS, Nor­we­gi­an Polar Insti­tu­te, muse­um, school etc.), tour ope­ra­tors.

Adventfjord

Advent­fjord as seen from Hiorthfjel­let, loo­king towards Lon­gye­ar­by­en.

But let’s have a look at Advent­fjord, Longyearbyen’s neigh­bour­hood. The area has a lot to offer for ever­y­bo­dy inte­res­ted not only in histo­ry and today’s sett­le­ments, but also in land­s­cape and a diver­si­ty of wild­life and flowers that you may well find sur­pri­sing if you spend some time in a pro­per sea­son. It is a gre­at area for all sorts of trips, sum­mer and win­ter.

For more, detail­ed infor­ma­ti­on: the Gui­de­book Spits­ber­gen-Sval­bard

Guidebook Spitsbergen-Svalbard

Regu­la­ti­ons and safe­ty

The­re are some rules regar­ding pro­tec­tion of natu­re, cul­tu­ral heri­ta­ge and tou­rists and to make tou­rism tole­ra­ble for ever­y­bo­dy, also near and in the sett­le­ments. See here.

And it is abso­lute­ly important to take safe­ty serious. On tours in Longyearbyen’s sur­roun­ding, you may have to cope with arc­tic wea­ther and ter­rain con­di­ti­ons, ever­ything from free­zing tem­pe­ra­tures (yes, even in times of cli­ma­te chan­ge you can still get some very serious frost­bi­te in the Arc­tic), storm, fog, icy ter­rain, steep ter­rain, gla­ciers (the­re are a few crev­as­ses, and the­re are some huge meltwa­ter chan­nels on all gla­ciers near Lon­gye­ar­by­en) – all sorts of poten­ti­al trou­ble and dan­ger in the Arc­tic – you name it – it may be just around the cor­ner, also very clo­se to Lon­gye­ar­by­en. And so far, two peop­le have been kil­led by polar bears near Lon­gye­ar­by­en, in 1995 on Pla­tå­berg and in 2020 on the cam­ping site. So, keep you eyes open and take care just as any­whe­re else in Sval­bard!

Polar bear, Adventfjord

Polar bear at a hut in Advent­fjord. It is important to be care­ful, any­whe­re and at any time!

Advent­fjord pan­ora­ma

The­re is a who­le bunch of pages here on spitsbergen-svalbard.com that have pan­ora­ma pho­tos and more infor­ma­ti­on on various sites in the Advent­fjord area, so a vir­tu­al trip to the­se pla­ces is just a mouse­click away!

The­se are just a few examp­les. Click here to access an inter­ac­ti­ve map for the full over­view.

Geo­lo­gy

Lower Cret­ace­ous and lower Ter­tia­ry (upper Cret­ace­ous is mis­sing in Sval­bard) sedi­ments, most­ly unde­for­med and gent­ly dipping to south. Becau­se of this, the slo­pes on the nort­hern side of the Advent­fjord are most­ly Cret­ace­ous except from the hig­hest parts, whe­re­as only the lower slo­pes are Cret­ace­ous on the south side (around Lon­gye­ar­by­en). The fan­tastic out­crop near the road at the har­bour has, howe­ver, Cret­ace­ous rocks.

Geology, Adventfjord

Struc­tures of sedi­ment lay­ers on Lars Hier­taf­jel­let, loo­king north
(towards Lon­gye­ar­by­en and Advent­fjord).

Both Cret­ace­ous and Ter­tia­ry con­sist litho­lo­gi­cal­ly of shal­low mari­ne and coas­tal sand-, silt- and clay­stones. The sand­stones are deri­ved from del­taic sedi­ments, the clay­stones point to stron­ger mari­ne influ­ence in a lar­ger distance from the coast. The­re were several transgressional/regressional cycles (rela­tiv sea-level rise and fall). This beco­mes clear during a hike for examp­le on the Nor­dens­kiöld­top­pen, a moun­tain more than 1000 metres high near Lon­gye­ar­by­en towe­ring abo­ve Pla­tå­ber­get. Here, dark clay­stones alter­na­te with silt- and sand­stone. The clay­stones repre­sent pha­ses of hig­her sea level, when the coast was far away and only fine grains were depo­si­ted here.

Geology, Adventfjord

Fine-grai­ned silt- and clay­stone lay­ers indi­ca­te the mari­ne influ­ence
with a more distant coast.

When the coast got nea­rer again due to a rela­ti­ve drop of sea level, sand was depo­si­ted which was was­hed into the sea by rivers.

Geology, Adventfjord

Sand­stone, depo­si­ted in a mari­ne envi­ron­ment near the coast,
can make hiking chal­len­ging today.

Some of the sand­stone lay­ers are fos­sil-rich. For examp­le, lea­ves simi­lar to tho­se of nazel­nut trees are com­mon (check the morains of the gla­ciers which gather all kinds of rocks in the catch­ment area).

Both the Cret­ace­ous and Ter­tia­ry sedi­ments have coal seams, which were the base for coal mining and thus for the exis­tence of Lon­gye­ar­by­en throughout most of its histo­ry.

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

Land­s­cape

Most striking, at least in com­pa­ri­son with other parts of Sval­bard, is the den­se land-use, but this does not mean that natu­re does not have anything to offer here. The land­s­cape is cha­rac­te­ri­sed by the pla­teau-shaped moun­tains which are so typi­cal for cen­tral and eas­tern Sval­bard, with high pla­teaus 400-500 metres abo­ve sea level. The pla­teaus are wide stone-deserts, part­ly with frost-pat­ter­ned ground and lar­ge­ly free of vege­ta­ti­on.

Most rocks abo­ve this level have been ero­ded – in other words, they have been the­re at some time. But now, only a few moun­tains tower hig­her than the pla­teau such as the Nor­dens­kiöld-Top­pen and Troll­stei­nen near Lon­gye­ar­by­en. Here, one can still see what kind of rocks once cove­r­ed the who­le area, but the hig­hest (youn­gest) ones are still lower Ter­tia­ry. Around Lon­gye­ar­by­en, the lower Ter­tia­ry sand­stone of the ‘Fir­kan­ten For­ma­ti­on’ forms con­spi­cuous cliffs which are cut into regu­lar, spec­ta­cu­lar towers by ero­si­on. The slo­pes are most­ly cove­r­ed with scree (rocks with most­ly sharp edges, from frost shat­ter).

Com­pa­red to other regi­ons wit­hin Sval­bard, Advent­fjord and Lon­gye­arda­len may appe­ar to be a bit grey-brown in colour with litt­le con­trast, which is due to the colour of the rocks, and the­re are only few and rela­tively small gla­ciers.

Glacier: Larsbreen

Gla­cier hike on Lars­breen south of Lon­gye­ar­by­en.

Flo­ra and fau­na

Both are sur­pri­sin­gly rich, des­pi­te of the pre­sence of more than 1500 humans. The­re is nice tun­dra in Bjørn­da­len and on the lower slo­pes bet­ween the­re and Lon­gye­ar­by­en as well as in Advent­da­len. The­re, you may even find the polar birch, which is rare in Sval­bard – good luck 🙂  You can find the polar birch in Enda­len.

Near Lon­gye­ar­by­en, the­re are small colo­nies of Litt­le auks nes­ting on the hig­her slo­pes. They breed under boul­ders, so you don’t see them nes­ting, but you see the birds fly­ing in and out and sit­ting on rocks. If you want to see Arc­tic terns, Kit­ti­wa­kes, Snow Bun­ting and, with some luck, even Grey phalar­o­pes, then the cam­ping site near the air­port and the arti­fi­cial lagoon bet­ween the cam­ping site and the coast is a good place to visit (keep your distance from bree­ding birds, don’t dis­turb them, see rules).

Reindeer, Longyearbyen

Rein­de­er in Lon­gye­ar­by­en.

In Advent­da­len, you may see King Eiders near some small ponds around June. The elu­si­ve Ivory gull may be seen near the dogyard just out­side Lon­gye­ar­by­en in the Advent­da­len. It is not unusu­al to see arc­tic fox and rein­de­er even insi­de Lon­gye­ar­by­en.

All in all – near Lon­gye­ar­by­en, you can see qui­te a lot of arc­tic flo­ra and fau­na. You can spend several days here, if you know whe­re to look – con­si­der to you hire your own gui­de, for a num­ber of inte­res­ting pla­ces, you will also need a rif­le, trans­por­ta­ti­on etc.

Histo­ry

Coal mining was the basis for most human acti­vi­ties in Advent­fjord in his­to­ri­cal times, at least indi­rect­ly. First attempts to mine the coal occur­ren­ces were made alrea­dy befo­re Lon­gye­ar­by­en (or, more cor­rect, Lon­gye­ar City) was foun­ded. The first mine in Advent­fjord was on Blomsterd­als­høg­da (“Trøn­der­gru­va”, behind today’s air­port) and in Advent City (on the north side of Advent­fjord) and, con­tem­pora­ry with Lon­gye­ar City’s ear­ly years, in Hior­th­hamn (also on the north side of Advent­fjord). The­re is still some­thing to see at all of the­se pla­ces (espe­cial­ly in Hior­th­hamn; Blomsterd­als­hø­da is the easiest one to reach, though), so they are inte­res­ting excur­si­on sites.

Trøndergruva, Blomsterdalshøgda

“Trøn­der­gru­va” on Blomsterd­als­høg­da (on the north slo­pe of Pla­tå­berg, behind the air­port) was Spitsbergen’s first “real” coal mine. Coal was mined here from 1903 to 1906.

Coal mine, Advent City

Remains of mining acti­vi­ties in Advent City,
which was acti­ve on a mode­ra­te sca­le from 1904 to 1908.
The actu­al mine was on the slo­pe in the back­ground, to the left of the litt­le val­ley,
just abo­ve the dark area (coal).

The Ame­ri­can entrepe­neur John Mun­ro Lon­gye­ar saw the poten­ti­al for coal mining during a crui­se and foun­ded the Arc­tic Coal Com­pa­ny Ltd. Mining in ‘Advent Bay’ star­ted in 1906. Lon­gye­ar sold ever­ything to the Nor­we­gi­an Store Nor­ske Spits­ber­gen Kull­kom­pa­ni (SNSK, today most­ly known as Store Nor­ske = Gre­at Nor­we­gi­an) in 1916 becau­se of the deve­lo­p­ment of the glo­bal mar­kets as well as local dif­fi­cul­ties. Mining has been redu­ced to a more sym­bo­lic level in mine 7 in near­by Advent­da­len which sup­plies the local coal power plant. Nor­we­gi­an coal-mining acti­vi­ties then cent­red on the mines Svea Nord and Lunck­ef­jel­let that both belon­ged to Sveagru­va, but the mines the­re were clo­sed in 2015 and not much will remain the­re after a lar­ge clean-up that is cur­r­ent­ly (2020) going on.

During, the war, the­re have been fights in Spits­ber­gen on several occa­si­ons. Most sett­le­ments, inclu­ding Lon­gye­ar­by­en, were des­troy­ed.

Life on Sval­bard chan­ged signi­fi­cant­ly when the air­port was ope­ned in 1975.

Tou­rism has also a long histo­ry in the area. A hotel was even ope­ned in the late 19th cen­tu­ry for a few years, the place is still cal­led Hotell­ne­set. Today, you find the camp site here, the­re are no remains of the old hotel.

Advent­fjord Gal­le­ry

Some impres­si­ons of what you can see and expe­ri­ence in the Advent­fjord area.

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

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last modification: 2020-09-17 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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