Arctic Islands


In the area between Russia and the north pole are several seas. From west to east they are the Barents Sea, Kara Sea, Laptev Sea, East Siberian Sea and the Chukchi Sea. There are numerous islands in these sea belonging to four major groups. Spitsbergen or Svalbard is a group of islands located in the Barents Sea. The islands itself belong to Norway, but mining concessions on the islands are Russian. Then there is Novaya Zemlya, Severnaya Zemlya. Zemlya Franca Josifa (Frans Josef Islands), and the Novo Sibirskie Ostrova (New Siberian Islands).Finally there is Ostrov Wrangel in the Chukchi sea.

These islands are very remote, but there are indications that at least some of them have interesting geology. The sparse info I found is presented below. Because of the lack of precise localities, I chose to describe them per island.

Novaya Zemlya

One look at the map could reveal the origin of Novaya Zemlya. It is situated directly north of the Urals and has a similar orientation. Novaya Zemlya can therefore be seen as the most northern part of the Urals. There is however one remarkable difference. The Novaya Zemlya fold belt is much younger than the Ural. The Ural is of Hercynian age (late Carboniferous to early Permian) with orogenic activity diminishing until the Triassic, while the Novaya Zemlya fold belt had it's most important orogeny in the Triassic.

 Novaya Zemlya and Ostrov Vaigach (between Novaya Zemlya and the main land) are mainly known as fossil localities. There are sedimentary rocks of cambrian, ordovician, siluriandevonian, carboniferous, permian, triassic, jurassic, cretaceous, tertiary and holocene ages. There are also precambrian volcanic rocks, gneiss, schist, quartzites, marbles and slates. There are agate deposits on the Southern Island.

Mineralogical details of Novaya Zemlya remain very sketchy, but there are reports of 'several polymetallic deposits'. Novaya Zelmya, without any further specification the islands are mentioned as locality for Donbassite (Handbook of mineralogy, Anthony & Bideaux). Fluorite deposits are also likely since there is some thing like the 'Pay-Khoi Novozemelskaya fluorite bearing province'.


Severnaya Zelmya

The "Northern World" is a group of  four major and some smaller islands north of the Taimyr peninsula, separating the Laptev and Kara seas. The archipello was discovered in 1913. N.N. Urvantsev has discovered hercynian tin and lithium ores on the islands in the early decades of the 20th century. On Bolshevik Island calcite is found pseudomorph after Ikaite, similar to the more famous ones from Olenitsa on the Kola Peninsula.

Ozernaya river
Ozernaya river is an ultrabasic intrusion rich in copper, nickel and PGE minerals. The ultra mafic plutons are related to the Tunguska trapp basalts and are of Permian to Triassic age. A really interesting locality of similar origin and type as Norilsk. 


Spitzbergen is a former Dutch waling station that passed to Norway in the early 20th century. (Being Dutch I still regret we gave Spitzbergen and Jan Mayen away). Besides American, Scottish and Norwegian coal mining activities, Russia opened one extensive coal mine in Barentsburg in the 1930's and another coal mine at Piramiden at Billefjorden in the 1940's.