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Raudfjord Liefdefjord Woodfjord

Woodfjord Liefdefjord map

The­re are seve­ral new pages to replace this one which covers a very lar­ge – too lar­ge, one might say – area. The new pages have more and updated infor­ma­ti­on and illus­tra­ti­ons about the indi­vi­du­al fjords.

For more, detail­ed infor­ma­ti­on: the Gui­de­book Spits­ber­gen-Sval­bard

Guidebook Spitsbergen-Svalbard

Gene­ral: Beau­tiful and varied fjord-area at Spitsbergen’s north coast. The area is usual­ly acces­si­ble quite ear­ly in the sum­mer, as it is still under the influence of the gulf stream, but fjord ice can block the fjords or at least the coast in places for ano­ther while. The lar­ger part of the area (Raud­fjord, Lief­defjord) is part of the Nor­thwest Spits­ber­gen Natio­nal Park.

Click here for pan­ora­ma images from Wood­fjord and Lief­defjord.

Geo­lo­gy: Varied. The­re are base­ment gneis­ses, marbles etc. in many are­as around Raud- and Lief­defjord. The­re are also places the­re with rem­nants of the fil­ling of the Devo­ni­an Andrée-Land-Gra­bens with its part­ly brow­nish-red sand­sto­nes, con­glo­me­ra­tes etc. (‘Old Red‘).

Old Red in inner Woodfjord

Old Red in inner Wood­fjord.

The­se sedi­ments have been stron­gly defor­med by com­pres­si­ve tec­to­nices pro­ba­b­ly during seve­ral stages: Sval­bar­di­an pha­se in the upper­most Devo­ni­an and during the Alpi­dic oro­ge­ny in the lower Ter­tia­ry, their total thic­k­ness exceeds 7-8 km, they are not meta­mor­phed. The colour varies and is part­ly grey to black and part­ly beau­tiful­ly red, which is due to iron oxi­des from wea­the­ring in a sub-tro­pi­cal cli­ma­te when the­se sedi­ments were depo­si­ted: back then, in the Devo­ni­an, more than 350 mil­li­on years ago, Spits­ber­gen as part of a lar­ger pla­te was just south of the equa­tor. The Raud­fjord has got its name (‘Red fjord’) from an occur­rence of Old Red sedi­ments on its eas­tern side, alt­hough it is not as striking as the name may sug­gests. The­re are very colourful are­as in the Liefdefjord/Woodfjord area: Reins­dyr­flya and the islands on its sou­thern side (Andøya­ne) and most of the eas­tern side of Wood­fjord and Bock­fjord. In the Bock­fjord, the­re is ano­ther inte­res­t­ing geo­lo­gi­cal fea­ture: the only Qua­ter­nary vol­ca­noes of Spits­ber­gen are the­re. Sver­ref­jel­let is the ruin of a vol­ca­no which may have erupt­ed a few 10 000 years ago, and the­re are some warm springs in the area.


The vol­ca­nic ruin Sver­ref­jel­let (cent­re).

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

Land­scape: Due to the geo­lo­gi­cal mosaic, the land­scape is very varied. In Old Red area, the most­ly soft sand­sto­nes give the land­scape round shapes and warm colours. Here, espe­ci­al­ly in Andrée Land east of the Wood­fjord, the­re only few and small gla­ciers, as the avera­ge ele­va­ti­on is lower and the area is in the rain shadow of the moun­ta­ins near the west coast.

Old Red, Bockfjord

Old Red in the Bock­fjord with its beau­tiful, red colours Far­ben.

Base­ment rocks south and west of the Lief­defjord fea­ture a land­scape with hig­her, jag­ged moun­ta­ins and strong gla­cia­ti­on, which cul­mi­na­tes in the lar­ge cal­ving front of the Mona­co­b­reen.

Monacobreen in Liefdefjord and mountains of crystalline basement rocks

The gla­cier Mona­co­b­reen and sur­roun­ding land­scape with alpi­ne moun­ta­ins in the inner Lief­defjord.

Flo­ra and Fau­na: Rich. Becau­se of the influence of the gulf stream, the cli­ma­te is rela­tively favoura­ble and the­re are beau­tiful tun­dra are­as, the colours of which are even enhan­ced by the red­dish soil in the Old Red are­as. The­se are quite pro­duc­ti­ve also becau­se wea­the­ring pro­ducts of the soft sand­sto­nes can crea­te some­thing remo­te­ly simi­lar to soil. Here, you can find Moun­tain avens, Pur­ple saxif­ra­ge and other saxif­ra­ges such as the Spi­der plant, which is other­wi­se quite rare. Also fau­ni­sti­cal­ly, the­re is a lot to be seen in the area such as lar­ge num­bers of bree­ding Arc­tic terns and Com­mon Eider, occa­sio­nal­ly even a King Eider. This means that ear­ly in the sea­son, one has to be extre­me­ly careful in order not to dis­turb any bree­ding birds. The­re are usual­ly huge num­bers of Arc­tic terns and Kit­ty­wa­kes attrac­ted to the front of the Mona­co­g­la­cier by upwel­ling melt­wa­ter which seems to bring some tasty goo­dies to the sur­face.

Arctic tern, Liefdefjord

Arc­tic tern (Lief­defjord).

Histo­ry: The area was regu­lar­ly visi­ted by wha­lers in the 17th cen­tu­ry, even though no remains of land sta­ti­ons are known. Trap­pers have often used the area in the late 19th and 20th cen­tu­ry; a tra­di­ti­on that has been kept ali­ve until today on a small sca­le out­side the natio­nal park.

Grave in Raudfjord

Gra­ve at Bruce­n­eset in Raud­fjord.

In 1934-35, Chris­tia­ne Rit­ter win­tered tog­e­ther with her hus­band Her­mann Rit­ter and the Nor­we­gi­an hun­ter Karl Niko­lai­sen in the hut just south of Gråhu­ken (click here to see pan­ora­ma images of the famous “Rit­ter hut” at Gråhu­ken). She wro­te a book about this expe­ri­ence that beca­me famous: “A woman in the polar night”.

The hut was actual­ly built in 1928 by the famous trap­per Hil­mar Nøis.

The Ritter-hut at Gråhuken

The “Rit­ter-hut” at Gråhu­ken.



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last modification: 2023-11-23 · copyright: Rolf Stange