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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.



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