Text and photos by Niklas Schaaf.
From the 1st to the 16th of August 2017 Niklas Schaaf (UiO/UNIS), three field assistants and his supervisor Per Terje Osmundsen (NGU) conducted field work for his MSc thesis. The fieldwork was based on Sarsøyra, a strandflat on the west coast of Spitsbergen approx. 20 km south of Ny-Ålesund. The field campaign focused on the characterization of the youngest basin infill of the Forlandsundet Graben.
Transport from Longyearbyen to the field site was organized with the Polish sailing vessel “Eltanin”. The crew dropped us off in between the ice-rafts of the Aavatsmarkbreen in blazing midnight sun. It took until midday when the entire camp was moved onto a high plateau. A drudgery that payed off as it kept us safe from the polar bears patrolling the beaches.
In the following days we took trips to the localities in the area. The fieldwork consisted of mainly sedimentary logging as well sampling of the sedimentary successions. There has been little work carried out in this area and most of the existing literature is more than 20 years old. With the data we hope to better constrain the tectonic and sedimentary history of the Forlandsundet Graben. In particular, its relationship to the compressional West Spitsbergen Fold and Trust Belt. Furthermore, the Forlandsundet Graben is located in a critical position to understand the tectonic evolution of the northernmost NE Atlantic margin.
The end of our expedition meant once again a full day of carrying gear down to the beach. Where we got picked up by our Czech friends with their expedition vessel “Clione”.