Text and images by Fredrik Wesenlund, PhD student in WP2, ARCEx.

Thinking back over the field season last summer, I must say that it has been an educational, spectacular and, probably the most important, a productive experience. The objective of the field work was to observe and collect Triassic shales, which will be analyzed for their geochemical content this year. For my project, the overall aim is to get a better understanding of the Triassic source rocks in the Northern—Northeastern Barents Sea. As Svalbard represents rocks from the Barents Sea which is exposed above the sea, it provides an excellent opportunity to familiarize ourselves with these ancient sediments in a way which is not possible with offshore drill cores.

The first field excursion started off with a 10-day roundtrip on the ship M/S Stålbas around Spitsbergen, Hopen and Edgeøya. The cruise was arranged by Statoil and Professor Snorre Olaussen from UNIS. Selected ARCEx team members (including lucky me!) were able to hitch a ride. As we visited the different localities, I was able to collect samples for my PhD project. (And luckily some spare time for Svalbardian geotourism!)

The second field excursion to Bjørnøya, also with M/S Stålbas, was carried out by the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) and Professor Atle Mørk from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), which lasted for 8 days. NPD’s objective was to look at Paleozoic rocks. Sten-Andreas Grundvåg, Sigrun Kvendbø Hegstad, Arild Andresen and me decided that we wanted to spend a couple days with the younger Triassic outcrops which is only present in the southeastern mountains on Bjørnøya, so we stayed in a cabin close to Miseryfjellet (The Misery Mountain). In the meantime, the participants from NPD continued to look at Paleozoic rocks.

The first day of Triassic field work on Bjørnøya was a breeze, with sunny, discontinuous cloud cover. The famous Bjørnøya fog was present, but not a problem, meaning we were able to collect many samples for my PhD project. The following day resulted in zero samples, as the wind speed kicked up several notches, making field work unsafe and hazardous. We had to cancel the field work that day and turn our back on Miseryfjellet, which really lived up to its name that day. This allowed for some Bjørnøya exploration, so we visited an abandoned lead mine nearby the cabin instead. (Not bad at all!) We returned to M/S Stålbas, which then became our primary base again.