A = Alkhornet,
T = Trygghamna,
F = Flintholmen,
C = Coraholmen
General: Varied landscape with many fjord, mountains and glaciers in central Spitsbergen. The area is relatively easily accessible due to its vicinity to Longyearbyen, but trips here have to be approved by the Sysselmannen (gouvernour) in Longyearbyen. Pay attention to protection rules and -areas! Longer tours are possible only either with boat support or with experience and equipment relevant for crevassed glaciers.
Geology: Varied. From the west coast to Alkhornet, you find mostly basement schists and quarzites. East of Trygghamna, the exposed sedimentary cover starts with the Permian carbonates, which belong partly to the conspicuous Kapp Starostin Formation. Due to their hardness, they form prominent capes. Both basement and sedimentary cover were strongly tectonically deformed during the Alpidic phase in the lower Tertiary, nice faults and folds are well visible in many locations. At Bohemanflya, steeply dipping Mesozoic and lower Tertiary strata are exposed, the latter ones coal-bearing. Here, the first coal has been mined which has been shipped to the mainland for commercial purposes.
Further east, in the inner Ekman- and Dicksonfjord, there is beautiful reddish Devonian Old Red.
Recommended book for further, well-digestable (really!) info about geology and landscape of Svalbard.
Landscape: Varied. The interior is strongly glaciated. There are large coastal plains both at the west coast as well as in the fjords, which are called ‘flya’ [flea] in Norwegian (Erdmannflya, Bohemanflya etc.). Here, you can find well-preserved series of fossil beach ridges as well as frost-patterned ground (stone rings, ice wedges etc.). Some of the glaciers have very large moraines. The small islands in the Ekmanfjord are very attractive. These consist partly of old beach ridges with tundra vegetation and partly of almost moon-like moraine landscapes, left behind after a surge (sudden advance) by the Sefströmbreen between 1882 and 1896.
Flintholmen in Ekmanfjord.
Sveabreen (-glacier) in inner Nordfjord on the northern side of Isfjord. The glacier can easily be seen from Longyearbyen if the weather is good. The mountain west of Sveabreen shows beautiful geological patterns: folded layers, deposited during the Permian, more than 250 million years ago, in shallow, warm seas near the equator. These sediments are rich in fossils.
Flora and Fauna: Near the coast, there are partly very rich tundra areas with reindeer, fox, geese etc. On steep cliffs, there are bird colonies such as on Alkhornet (‘Guillemot Horn’), a horn-shaped mountain west of Trygghamna. Here, thousands of Brünich’s Guillemots and, mainly, Kittiwakes are breeding each summer many hundred metres above the tundra.
Click here to see panorama photos from Alkhornet.
History: Isfjord was one of the first fjords which was discovered and used in Svalbard. There are remains from the periods of the Pomors and the whalers. The Norwegian Søren Zachariassen started commercial mining in Svalbard, when he for the first time extracted some Tertiary coal at Bohemanneset for the purpose of selling it in Norway. Some years later, the German journalist wintered here together with Hjalmar Johansen, Fridtjof Nansen’s companion from the famous wintering in Franz Josef Land during the ‘Fram’ expedition (1893-96). Lerner and Johansen intended a sledge expedition during the spring, which should lead them to the remotest parts of Svalbard. They ended up on Danskøya.
The whole northern side of the Isfjord has constantly been used by trappers in the early 20th century, important areas were Alkhornet as well as Dicksonfjord, where the legendary Arthur Oxaas used to live for many years, mostly between the wars.
The fjord Trygghamna (‘Safe Harbour’) was already known to and used by the whaler’s during the 17th century.