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Stormbukta-Sørkapp

T = Trol­lo­sen

Sørkapp

Gene­ral: Sou­thern­most part of Spits­ber­gen. The cli­ma­te is rather high polar with more drift ice than fur­ther north at the west coast. This is due to cold sea cur­r­ents which come south in eas­tern parts of Sval­bard and drift around South Cape to fol­low the west coast to the north again, whe­re the­se cold, polar waters mix with more tem­pe­ra­te waters brought up here by the Gulf Stream. The area is geo­lo­gi­cal­ly, land­s­cape-wise and his­to­ri­cal­ly inte­res­ting, but dif­fi­cult to get to. The rocky coast is very expo­sed to the north Atlan­tic with its sea and wea­ther con­di­ti­ons, so small boat lan­dings are often impos­si­ble. Addi­tio­nal­ly, some pla­ces are pro­tec­ted as bird sanc­tua­ries, whe­re approach and ent­ran­ce is pro­hi­bi­ted 15th May-15th August (Sør­kap­pøya and near­by islands and rocks). The who­le area belongs to the South Spits­ber­gen Natio­nal Park.

For more, detail­ed infor­ma­ti­on: the Gui­de­book Spits­ber­gen-Sval­bard

Guidebook Spitsbergen-Svalbard

Geo­lo­gy: The coast bet­ween Horn­sund and Storm­buk­ta con­sists of base­ment rocks, most­ly car­bo­na­tes (lime­stone, dolo­stone). Solu­ti­on pro­ces­ses have pro­du­ced karst phe­no­me­na, of which a lar­ge spring in Storm­buk­ta is the most con­spi­cuous one. This spring, named ‘Trol­lo­sen’ (Troll spring), pro­du­ces some 10 m3 (10 000 litres) of water per second, which makes it the lar­gest spring wit­hin Sval­bard. The water fol­lows a short can­yon to the sea. A litt­le distance fur­ther south, clo­ser to the gla­cier, the­re are some more, smal­ler springs which smell like rot­ten eggs (‘sul­phur’). This smell does not indi­ca­te any vol­ca­nic acti­vi­ty, it is becau­se the ground­wa­ter pene­tra­tes rocks with some stin­ky stuff insi­de (for examp­le, orga­nic mat­ter in shale­stone).

Click here for pan­ora­ma pho­tos of the very sou­thern­most part of Spits­ber­gen.

South of Storm­buk­ta are Meso­zoic and Ter­tia­ry sedi­ments expo­sed. The Ter­tia­ry sedi­ments are coal-bea­ring, as they are fur­ther north (Bellsund, Isfjord). The sou­thern­mosts parts of Spits­ber­gen inclu­ding Sør­kap­pøya are com­po­sed of hard, fos­sil-rich Permi­an lime­stones (Kapp Sta­ros­tin For­ma­ti­on).

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

Land­schaft: Simi­lar to other parts of the west coast any­whe­re south of the Kongsfjord, the­re are wide coas­tal plains bet­ween Horn­sund und Sør­kapp. Solu­ti­on of car­bo­na­te rocks belon­ging to the base­ment leads to inte­res­ting carst phe­no­me­na such as the lar­ge spring Trol­lo­sen, see abo­ve. The inte­riour of the coun­try is stron­gly gla­cia­ted. The­re is a spe­cial­ty on Kis­tef­jel­let, which is Spitsbergen’s sou­thern­most moun­tain: accord­ing to the topo­gra­phic map, the­re is a pin­go on top (I have never seen it, but who knows, may­be one day…).

Flo­ra and Fau­na: Tun­dra in the are­as of the coas­tal plains, the inte­riour is bar­ren and most­ly cove­r­ed with ice. The­re are colo­nies of Kit­ty­wa­kes on steep slo­pes such as in some smal­ler can­yons. Becau­se of the ice con­di­ti­ons, the Sør­kapp area is an important migra­ti­on area for polar bears. The smal­ler islands such as Sør­kap­pøya are important bree­ding sites for Com­mon eider ducks and thus pro­tec­ted – lan­dings are not allo­wed during the bree­ding sea­son.

Histo­ry: Becau­se of the expo­sed coasts, acti­vi­ties here were fewer than in the fjords fur­ther north. The south cape has always been an important hun­ting area, as polar bears came with the drift ice from the east. On the small island Sør­kap­pøya, the­re are remains of hun­ting sta­ti­ons of the Pomors at at least three dif­fe­rent sites, all of them poten­ti­al­ly from the midd­le of the 16th cen­tu­ry. This would make them older than the peri­od of wha­lers and even the ‘offi­cial’ dis­co­very of Spits­ber­gen made by Wil­lem Bar­ents in 1596. In the late 19th and ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry, Nor­we­gi­an trap­pers such as the well-known Pet­ter Trond­sen hun­ted polar bears with self-shot, rif­le and some­ti­mes with poi­son­ed meat. All this was a dan­ge­rous busi­ness, as the ice could start to move at any time, and occa­sio­nal­ly peop­le who hap­pen­ed to be out on the ice at the wrong time, disap­peared traceless.

1944/45, Ger­ma­ny had a man­ned war wea­ther sta­ti­on with the code-name ‘Land­vik’ in Storm­buk­ta. Some remains can still be seen. Click here for pan­ora­ma pho­tos from Storm­buk­ta.

Remains of the German war weather station in Stormbukta

Remains of the Ger­man war wea­ther sta­ti­on in Storm­buk­ta.

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