vrijdag 28 juni 2013

Walking on the ocean floor near Ny-Ålesund

28 June 2013

In the morning we had lots of sunshine while working offshore. But in the evening the weather in Ny-Ålesund quickly changed. Heavy clouds rushed in and seemingly endless rain poured down. Nevertheless, Maarten Loonen from the Netherlands Arctic Station took us out for a field trip. First the instructions: check the rifles, flare gun and radio. Then off to the west. Just outside the village the rifles are half-loaded, just to be sure. We walked towards the airport, a 800 meter long gravel road. Along the strip, several scientific observation stations are functioning, such as the large satellite dish of the Norwegian Mapping Authority, measuring the earth’s rotation speed. After the air strip we reached the red river, which is red because of the silt that is transported from the glaciers. After crossing the a small bridge we reached the tundra. Because of the melting upper layer of the tundra, many us of sank into the mud. In the meantime Maarten explained that we were actually walking on a former ocean floor. About 10,000 years ago, just after the glaciers retreated, an ocean was formed. This is proven by the white shells that can be found at many places. After the tundra we reached Kongsfjorden. Due to the rain and clouds we the view was not stunning; however good enough to spot a walrus and some belugas. 

View over Kongsfjorden, 6 km north-west of  Ny-Ålesund
© Bas Bolman

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