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HomeSpits­ber­gen infor­ma­ti­onIslands: Spits­ber­gen & Co.Nord­aus­t­land → Wahlen­bergfjord, Palan­der­buk­ta


Map Wahlenbergfjord, Palanderbukta

Fon­na (Nor­we­gi­an) = ice­cap

Gene­ral: Wahlen­bergfjord, named after a Swe­dish sci­en­tist of the ear­ly 19th cen­tu­ry, is cut­ting deep from Hin­lo­pen Strait into the wes­tern coast of Nord­aus­t­land, lea­ving only a rela­tively nar­row bridge of ice free land bet­ween Wahlen­bergfjord and Rijpfjord on the north coast, with just a good 20 km (as the crow flies) from coast to coast.

For more, detail­ed infor­ma­ti­on: the Gui­de­book Spits­ber­gen-Sval­bard

Guidebook Spitsbergen-Svalbard

Wahlen­bergfjord is often blo­cked by fjord ice well into the sum­mer, and its nort­hern and inner­most parts are poor­ly char­ted and accord­in­gly not visi­ted by many ships. The­re are nevertheless several inte­res­ting lan­ding sites, espe­cial­ly in Palan­der­buk­ta, which has got its name after a famous Swe­dish polar explo­rer, com­pa­n­ion of Adolf Erik Nor­dens­kiöld. For examp­le, Palan­derda­len and Zei­pe­lod­den offer good oppor­tu­nities for sce­nic hikes.


Hiking group in morai­ne land­s­cape in Palan­der­buk­ta.

Selanderneset, entrance to Wahlenbergfjord, Hinlopen Strait

Selan­der­ne­set at the ent­ran­ce of Wahlen­bergfjord. Hori­zon­tal sedi­men­ta­ry lay­ers have been cut by ero­si­on to form slo­pes with regu­lar towers. Basalt lay­er on top.

Geo­lo­gy: Base­ment (Hec­la Hoek), con­sis­ting of weak­ly meta­mor­phic, most­ly stee­ply dipping sedi­ments on the nort­hern side. Gul­dé­nøya­ne are made up of dio­ri­te (basalt) as most islands in Hin­lo­pen Strait. The south side of Wahlen­bergfjord is cha­rac­te­ri­zed by hori­zon­tal lay­ers of Car­bo­ni­fe­rous and Permi­an sedi­ments, most­ly very rich in car­bo­na­tes and often with a lot of fos­sils. Dio­ri­tic intru­si­ons have been exhu­med by ero­si­on to form wide expo­sed pla­teaux on the moun­tain tops.

Book recom­men­da­ti­on for fur­ther, detail­ed and easi­ly under­stand­a­ble (yes, real­ly) infor­ma­ti­on on the topics geology/landscape.

Gletscherfront, Wahlenbergfjord

Glet­scher­front, Wahlen­bergfjord.

Land­s­cape: Very wide and open. Wahlen­bergfjord is almost com­ple­te­ly sur­roun­ded by wide ice caps, but the­re are stri­pes of ice-free land main­ly on its sou­thern side, which are get­ting qui­te wide espe­cial­ly around Palan­der­buk­ta. Steep moun­tain slo­pes have been cut by ero­si­on to form regu­lar­ly pro­tru­ding towers, which is very sce­nic. Parts of the coast are steep or, espe­cial­ly on the nort­hern side of the fjord, domi­na­ted by gla­ciers with cal­ving ice cliffs. Lan­ding oppor­tu­nities are accord­in­gly main­ly in Palan­der­buk­ta, which has impres­si­ve polar desert land­s­capes with per­fect­ly deve­lo­ped frost pat­ter­ned ground and all the typi­cal traces of holo­ce­ne gla­cio-iso­sta­tic land uplift in some pla­ces. The gene­ral appearan­ce of the sce­ne­ry is very bar­ren and desert-like.

Barren polar desert with ice wedges in Palanderbukta

Bar­ren polar desert with ice wed­ges in Palan­der­buk­ta.

Flo­ra and Fau­na: Wahlen­bergfjord is a polar desert area as Nord­aus­t­land in gene­ral. Vege­ta­ti­on is accord­in­gly scar­se and most­ly restric­ted to favoura­ble loca­ti­ons and scat­te­red Sval­bard pop­py and Pur­p­le saxif­ra­ge. Drop­pings and ant­lers are evi­dence of occa­sio­nal rein­de­er roa­ming around, an ama­zing fact in such a bar­ren envi­ron­ment. The nea­rest polar bear will never be very far away, espe­cial­ly when the­re is drift ice in the area, in which case it is not unli­kely to find wal­rus res­ting on ice floes. The­re used to be small colo­nies of Ivory gulls on some slo­pes, but they seem to have gone.

Svalbardmohn, Palanderbukta

Sval­bard pop­py (Papa­ver dah­lia­num), Palan­der­buk­ta.

Histo­ry: Wahlen­bergfjord has been visi­ted repeated­ly by sci­en­ti­fic expe­di­ti­ons in the 19th cen­tu­ry, but without being the focus of atten­ti­on, so it is his­to­ri­cal­ly not the most exci­ting place. The­re was a win­te­ring of Nor­we­gi­an trap­pers in the 20th cen­tu­ry which ended in a tra­ge­dy. The two men pro­bab­ly died during an explo­si­on in their main hut in Augus­t­abuk­ta in Hin­lo­pen Strait. The ruin of a hut at Palan­derda­len belon­ged to their hun­ting area.

The crew of the Ger­man war wea­ther sta­ti­on Hau­de­gen in Rijpfjord estab­lis­hed a depot in Bod­ley­buk­ta in inner­most Wahlen­bergfjord in case the sta­ti­on would be des­troy­ed. Wahlen­bergfjord is wit­hin reach during a day of for­ced mar­ching from the loca­ti­on of the Hau­de­gen sta­ti­on in Rijpfjord.

Gal­le­ry Wahlen­bergfjord

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


By the way:

New book

my new book is in print and it can now be orde­red 🙂 it is a pho­to book with the tit­le “Nor­we­gens ark­ti­scher Nor­den (3): Die Bären­in­sel und Jan May­en”, with Ger­man text Click here for fur­ther details!


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last modification: 2014-10-28 · copyright: Rolf Stange