For the time being, master student Erika Njå (UiB) and her assistant Anne Mette Tholstrup Simonsen (University of Copenhagen) are conducting fieldwork in Dicksonfjorden. The aim of the fieldwork is mainly to investigate the Middle to Late Permian Kapp Starostin Formation. The students have already been out in the field for a whole week, but will stay in Dicksonfjorden for another two weeks. They are accompanied by two huskies, Storm and Vesla, which do not only offer good polar bear protection, but also contribute to a good social atmosphere in the evenings. In addition, Sten-Andreas Grundvåg (UNIS/UiT), joined the first week of the campaign. The first day of the fieldwork was used to establish a nice and safe tent camp in the mouth of Esperantodalen, a narrow valley in the outer parts of Dicksonfjorden.

Text and photos by Sten-Andreas Grundvåg.

The students investigating the boundary between the Gipshuken and Kapp Starostin formations.
The students investigating the boundary between the Gipshuken and Kapp Starostin formations.

 

The Permian outcrops in the area are superbly exposed and are of seismic scale. However, the steepness of the outcrops makes it difficult to locate sections that are possible to measure. Therefore, the following four days before Sten-Andreas left for Longyearbyen was used to do a proper reconnaissance of all the outcrops that were possible to access.

The objective of Erika’s master study is to increase the understanding of the facies variability and sequence stratigraphic development of the Middle to Late Permian Kapp Starostin Formation in central Spitsbergen. The formation represents deposition on an open marine, storm-dominated, distally deepening mixed carbonate-siliciclastic platform. The carbonates are of typical cool-water affinity, and large parts of the succession are dominated by spiculites, a rock type consisting of siliceous sponge spicules. The underlying Early Permian Gipshuken Formation, which is the secondary target of Erika’s study, is rich in dolomites and evaporates and represent deposition in semi-arid to arid coastal environments (e.g. sabkhas, shallow lagoons and salinas).

Although the general depositional setting for the Kapp Starostin Formation is well understood, some facies and facies transitions, and what processes were active during deposition are less understood. Various carbonate build-ups, channel features, clinoform geometries and offshore bars are amongst the features that should receive more attention. In addition, various stratigraphic surfaces in the formation are somewhat enigmatic, and their sequence stratigraphic significance is unknown.

Erika’s dataset will mainly consist of the sedimentary logs they measure during the fieldwork and thin sections made from rock samples collected in the outcrops. The Gipshuken and Kapp Starostin formations have been the focus of many recent investigations mainly due to the recent Gotha and Alta discoveries in similar and time-equivalent deposits in the Barents Sea. However, in the Barents Sea the porosity of the spiculites and carbonates are generally secondary owing to sub-aerial exposure and karstification of the Loppa High.

We wish Erika and Anne Mette good luck with the remaining two weeks and we look forward to hear back from them when they return from Dicksonfjorden.

Putting up the tents on a sunny day in the Arctic. In the background you can see the upper parts of the Gipshuken Formation which here consists of dolostones, gypsum and fossiliferous carbonates.
Putting up the tents on a sunny day in the Arctic. In the background you can see the upper parts of the Gipshuken Formation which here consists of dolostones, gypsum and fossiliferous carbonates.
The outcrops in Dicksonfjorden are amazing with excellent exposure. However, the steepness of the cliffs makes it hard to find sections that are easily accessible.
The outcrops in Dicksonfjorden are amazing with excellent exposure. However, the steepness of the cliffs makes it hard to find sections that are easily accessible.
Storm and Vesla enjoying the evening sun in Dicksonfjorden.
Storm and Vesla enjoying the evening sun in Dicksonfjorden.