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Wijdefjord

Gene­ral

Spitsbergen’s lon­gest fjord. It cuts more than 100 kilo­me­tres into the north coast of the island and is sepa­ra­ted from Isfjord by less than 30 kilo­me­tres of land.

Map Wijdefjord

The sou­thern part is a good trek­king area which can be reached from Pyra­mi­den in Bill­efjord. The midd­le and nort­hern parts are less visi­ted, as Wij­defjord is not well char­ted and ships can not easi­ly sail in the­re.

For more, detail­ed infor­ma­ti­on: the Gui­de­book Spits­ber­gen-Sval­bard

Guidebook Spitsbergen-Svalbard

Geo­lo­gy

Varied and inte­res­ting. The­re are hard base­ment rocks (most­ly gra­ni­tes and gneiss) on the east side in Ny-Fries­land.

Stubendorffbreen, Austfjord

Stu­ben­dorf­breen in Ny-Fries­land, on the east side of Aus­t­fjord.

Becau­se of the hard­ness and land uplift, the land ele­va­ti­on – and thus, also gla­cia­ti­on – is hig­her in average than west of Wij­defjord, in Andrée Land. The­re, bed­rock con­sists of remants of the fil­ling of the Andrée Land-gra­ben, a Devo­ni­an molas­se basin which was for­med at the end of the Cale­do­ni­an oro­ge­ny. The basin was fil­led with ever­ything from coar­se con­glo­me­ra­tes to siltstone. Some of the lay­ers have a beau­ti­ful brow­nish-red colour due to Hema­ti­te, an iron oxi­de which is a wea­the­ring pro­duct from (sub)tropical cli­ma­te; at the time of depo­si­ti­on, more than 350 mil­li­on years ago, Spits­ber­gen was just south of the equa­tor.

Andrée Land, Wijdefjord

Devo­ni­an Old Red in Andrée Land on the west side of Wij­defjord.

All of this has later been defor­med (Sval­bar­di­an pha­se in the upper­most Devo­ni­an and Alpi­dic oro­ge­ny in the lower Ter­tia­ry), but not meta­mor­pho­sed. Today, the rocks west of the Wij­defjord are known as the ‘Old Red’. The cumu­la­ti­ve thic­kness of the Old Red is at least 7-8, pro­bab­ly more than 10 kilo­me­tres.

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

Land­s­cape

In Andrée Land on the west side of the Wij­defjord, the most­ly soft sand­stones give the land­s­cape round shapes and warm colours, with a lower average ele­va­ti­on than east of the fjord (Ny-Fries­land). Thus and becau­se Andrée Land is in the rain shadow of the moun­tains in east and west, the­re are only few and small gla­ciers. This is in strong con­trast to Ny Fries­land to the east of the Wij­defjord, whe­re uplifted, hard base­ment rocks form a stron­gly gla­cia­ted high pla­teau, whe­re New­ton­top­pen is situa­ted, the hig­hest moun­tain of Spits­ber­gen with 1713 metres. In the inner­most part of the Wij­defjord, the­re is the wide cal­ving front of the Mit­tag Leff­ler­breen. The area bet­ween Aus­t­fjord (the inner­most branch of the Wij­defjord) and Bill­efjord is a very nice area for long, deman­ding but very rewar­ding trek­king.

Mittag-Lefflerbreen, Wijdefjord

Mit­tag-Leff­ler­breen in Aus­t­fjord, inner­most Wij­defjord.

On the east side of nort­hern Wij­defjord, the­re is a pret­ty unusu­al land­s­cape with several lar­ge lakes.

Lakes, Wijdefjorden

Lakes near Vass­farb­uk­ta, nort­hern Wij­defjord.

Flo­ra and fau­na

The flo­ra is qui­te rich, espe­cial­ly on the west side of the fjord.

Vegetasjon i Wijdefjorden

Vege­ta­ti­on in Wij­defjord: Arc­tic White Cam­pi­on and Tuf­ted saxif­ra­ge.

The­re is a gra­di­ent from the mari­ti­me cli­ma­te on the outer coast in the north to the slight­ly more con­ti­nen­tal cli­ma­te in the inner sec­tions of the fjord, which beco­mes visi­ble in the vege­ta­ti­on: in the more con­ti­nen­tal inner parts, fur­ther away from the coast, the sum­mer is slight­ly war­mer and the vege­ta­ti­on peri­od hence lon­ger. Addi­tio­nal­ly, the local cli­ma­te tends to be dry and win­dy. The result is an arc­tic step­pe vege­ta­ti­on that is uni­que in Euro­pe, a fac­tor that play­ed an important role when the Inner Wij­defjord Natio­nal Park was estab­lis­hed in 2003.

Histo­ry

Part of the dra­ma­tic Schrö­der-Stranz-Expe­di­ti­on (1912-13) hap­pen­ed in the Wij­defjord. The fjord has often been used by Pomors and Nor­we­gi­an trap­pers, a tra­di­ti­on which has been kept ali­ve the­re on a small sca­le.

The­re are several huts in Wij­defjord that go back to the Pomor peri­od, like the ones at Dirks­od­den and Elve­t­an­gen.

Villa Rave, Elvetangen

Vil­la Rave at Elve­t­an­gen in nort­hern Wij­defjord. Part of the hut goes back to the Pomor area, others are youn­ger, built by Nor­we­gi­an trap­pers. The hut play­ed an important role during the Schrö­der-Stranz-expe­di­ti­on.

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last modification: 2019-05-11 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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