Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Icy encounter in Liefdefjorden and Bockfjorden

While MS FRAM penetrates further into the deep-reaching fjordsystem of Woodfjord (one of the many fjords in the north of Spitsbergen facing towards the North Pole), we end at the ‘cul-de-sac’ of Liefdefjord. It hides an artic ‘gem’ of a long-stretched glacier that had already enchanted Albert I, the Duke of Monaco, who gave his name: ‘Monaccobreen’. While cruising in small cruising boats in front of its massive glacier cliff of 6-7 km of length, the human eye is captivated by the splendour and purity of the slow-moving (all relative of course in geological terms) icy riverbeds.

Not far away from the Monaco Glacier there is a geological oddity and attracts our curiosity. Eventually, we get the opportunity to make a landing at the most southerly tip of Bockfjorden. Here, traces of long gone-by volcanic activity can still be found in the geothermal springs of ‘Jotunkjeldane’.

They are connected with the characteristic cone-shape of the nearby Sverrefjellet, that resembles a present-day volcano. In this icy and hostile environment, the springs still maintain a temperature of 20 degrees Celsius. In order to see the whole expense of the springs, all guides form a fence watch-system and give us space enough to indulge in the luxury of being taken for a precious while by the free nature of Svalbard.
The governor’s initiative ‘clean up Svalbard’ has also inspired some of our guests. Some of us are keen on collecting old fisher nets and other rubbish along the shoreline. Finally, we end up sending 4 bags (currently the season’s record!) back to the MV FRAM.

Finally towards the evening we reach ‘Moffen’, the tiny wind-torn island sporting normally a walrus colony above 80 degrees northern latitude. From far beyond this area, we can sense the North Pole (600 nm away from us) somewhere out there in the white ‘nothingness’ of the eternal pack ice.