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Svalbard

Main attractions

Alkefjellet, Svalbard
Alkefjellet - there is lots of life in Arctic / , Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

The northern archipelago of Svalbard contains rather many unique landmarks. Most notable are several geological monuments, including the unique northern thermal springs, unique finds of fossils, otherworldy congeliturbates and above all - the magnificent landscape of Arctic fjords.

Notable monuments are also the numerous subglacial and glacier caves, which often are lighted by deep blue natural light protruding through the clear ice ceiling. Sometimes they may reach considerable size, like Koupaliste Cave (southern Spitsbergen, Austre Trolbreen) which houses 120 m long and 80 m wide lake or Glasjologer Cave (Southen Spitsbergen, Werenskioldbreen) with 80 m deep shaft through the ice.

Springs

Little known but amazing natural attractions of Svalbard are the diverse springs. Wondermondo lists just some types:

  • Fløtspingo and other Reindalen pingos - Spitsbergen, Reindalen. Highest pingos in Svalbard and some of the highest open system pingos of the world, up to 42 m high. Pingos are giant chunks of ice covered with soil, open system pingos are basically springs fed by artesian water and frozen as they reach the surface - and thus may contain both ice and flowing water. Pingos of Reindalen most likely contain unfrozen salty water under pressure - there have been reports about up to 60 m high geyser-like spouts of water coming from similar structures further south in Svalbard.
  • Jotun springs - Spitsbergen, at the Friedrich Glacier. Two hot springs north from Troll springs, northernmost hot springs of the world. These hot springs form impressive travertine formations in a form of flat cones, rising 2 - 3 m high. Temperature of water at the surface is 24.5°C
  • Tempelfjorden thermal submerged spring - Spitsbergen, Tempelfjord. In winter in the middle part of Tempelfjord has been noticed circular hole with abnormally warm water - possible upsurge of warm springs below the sea level.
  • Troll springs - Spitsbergen, at the Karl glacier. Group of six hot springs, with a temperature up to 28.3 °C. Springs have formed impressive and beautiful travertine terraces with pools of different sizes. Part of pools is dry and deteriorating.
  • Trollosen of Stormbukta - Spitbergen, southern part of island at Stormbukta. The most powerful spring in Svalbard, produces 10,000 litres of water per second. Water has formed small canyon towards the sea. To the south is another spring weith a smell of rotten eggs.

Waterfalls

  • Hyperitfossen - Spitsbergen. Beautiful waterfall at the Tempelfjord, De Geerdalen. Water falls in cascades over dolerite rock.
  • Waterfall at the mouth of Dicksonfjorden - Spitsbergen. Impressive, thin, single plunge waterfall. The beauty of this waterfall is accented by the horizontal layering of the cliff circus.

Other natural monuments

Kvadehuksletta stone ridges, Svalbard
Kvadehuksletta stone ridges / Hannes Grobe, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 2.5, taken in 2007.
  • Alkefjellet - Spitbergen. Very impressive, up to 100 m tall vertical basalt cliffs (in many locations seen the characteristic hexagonal columns) are inhabited by tens of thousands of Brünich's guillemots (Uria lomvia).
  • Festningen - Spitsbergen. At the mouth of Isfjorden there is unusual geological formation - vertical wall which looks like a fortress wall. It is natural formation of very hard sandstone. The surrounding rock has been eroded and sandstone now stands like a wall, extending into the sea. Footprints of Iguanodons have been found here, although now this part of rock has collapsed.
  • Hornsund - Spitsbergen. Possibly the most beautiful fjord in Svalbard, 25 km long, with up to 1431 m high sides. Contains numerous blue icebergs - here end several glaciers.
  • Kvadehuksletta - Spitsbergen, west from Ny-Ålesund. This site contains numerous perfect circle shaped stone ridges and labyrinth patterns shaped by frost (congeliturbates). Many stone ridges are arranged in long rows.
  • Stappen bird cliff (Fuglefjellet) - Bjørnøya. Up to 411 m tall cliffs. Here live hundreds of thousands of Brünnich’s guillemots, northern fulmars, black-legged kittiwakes, glaucuous gulls and other birds.
  • Strappen - south Bjørnøya. 186 m tall dolostone stack rising directly from the sea.
  • Sylen - south Bjørnøya. 80 m tall dolostone stack rising directly from the sea.
  • Tarantellen - Billefjord, Spitsbergen. Carbonate rock here has formed impressive double arch, rock is more than 20 metres high. Rock formation looks like enormous spider standing on the top of the mountain (750 m).

Man made landmarks

Entrance into Global Seed Vault, Svalbard
Entrance into Global Seed Vault / Mari Tefre, Global Crop Diversity Trust, Wikimedia Commons, free use allowed.
  • Hammerfesthytta (Tobiesen's House) - Bjørnøya. Possibly the oldest usable building in Svalbard - a wooden hunter lodge built in 1822 and 1865-1866.
  • Ny-Ålesund - Spitsbergen. Northernmost active public settlement of the world, located at 78°55'N. Here are living 30 - 35 people in winter, village created as a scientific station.
  • Svalbard Global Seed Vault - Spitsbergen. Unique project - preserve of plant seeds in an underground cavern, serving as a "backup" in a case of the loss of seeds in other gene banks or some global catastroph. Seeds are stored 120 m deep in sandstone cliff in secure conditions. Capacity envisages storage of 4.5 million seed samples.

List of islands

Svalbard here is divided into the largest islands and groups of islands. If landmark happens to be on a smaller island, it is listed as belonging to the nearest large island.

Spitsbergen
Nordaustlandet
Edgeøya
Barentsøya
Kvitøya
Prins Karls Forland
Kong Karls Land
Bjørnøya

Map of Svalbard

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