Day 9 |
Jul 08, 2008

Cruise & Explore Svalbard

By Stefan Kredel, Geologist

What a day! First of all, we thought that after the long day of yesterday we could sleep in. But we were wrong! At about 07:45, we heard the sweet (?!) voice of our fearless Expedition Leader, Conrad Combrink, over the PA system. Throughout the night, we had made far better speed in the ice than was expected. For that reason, we had the possibility of an extra landing this morning. This unplanned landing took place at the “14th of July” glacier. Already when sailing into the place, the “Krossfjord” was spectacular. High mountains separated by various glaciers were in sight. Once ready for disembarkation, we were brought by our Zodiacs to a sandy beach. Here, guests had the alternative of joining one of the various walks with led by our expedition staff, or of walking on their own. So there were walks focusing on the birds, the (other) wildlife, the botany, the photography or the most interesting thing… the geology (well, probably I should mention that I led this particular walk). However, everyone seemed to enjoy his/her time and some even used the opportunity to step onto a glacier. For a lot of us, this was the first time ever to do so! After about 3 hours ashore, it was time to say goodbye to this lovely landing spot.

After all were back onboard, we set sail to our afternoon destination: Blomstrandhalvoya. By straight translation, that name would mean “peninsula of the flower beach”. But that is wrong! First of all, it is not a peninsula (anymore), as the former peninsula became a “real” island with the melting of the “connecting” glacier, and the name “Blomstrand” had nothing to do about the enrichment of flowers, but was in honour of the Swedish chemist Blomstrand. Once ashore, we could see the remains of the mining that took place between 1910 and 1920. In that period of time, there was a big effort to mine marble out of the mountains, but because of a lot of fractures and a low-grade metamorphism grade, it was not profitable. For a better understanding, it should be mentioned that marble is the metamorphic product of limestone. The metamorphism (“change/ re-crystallisation”) takes place by high pressure / temperature that is mainly caused by mountain building processes. In this case, the pressure / temperature situation was low. However, up to 60 people were working at that place. We could still see the remains from this mining period, just opposite of Ny Alesund, the most northern international research settlement. Two of the huts at Blomstrand are still kept in shape for researchers and weekend visitors from the other side of the bay. 

At 18:00, everybody was back onboard. After a brief about the next day’s activities, our lecturers recapped the major highlights seen by each of the scientific fields. Tony Huntley talked about fossils (as he realised that geology is far more interesting than marine biology – the geologist is talking again…), Christian Walter talked about the origin of geographical names, Brent Stephenson about birds (what a surprise!) and Stefan Kredel about the gorgeous geology!!! The recap was finished with a superb video of the polar bear outing from the previous evening done by our resident photographer Camille Seaman. Another amazing day in the exceptional scenery of Svalbard was finished by another delicious dinner onboard the Prince Albert II.