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Geocryological and Hydrogeological Conditions of the Western Part of Nordenskiold Land (Spitsbergen Archipelago)

Abstract

This work summarizes the archived data of geocryological and hydrogeological conditions in the west of Nordenskiold Land on the Spitsbergen Archipelago. The historical data obtained in the Soviet period during coal exploration are reviewed together with the results of our own studies performed as part of the Russian Scientific Arctic Expedition on Spitsbergen (RAE-S) in 2016–2020. With respect to geocryology, the region is assigned to the zone of continuous permafrost. The thickness of rocks and sediments with temperatures below zero is about 100 m near the coast and increases to 540 m on watersheds. The mean annual ground temperature near the zero-amplitude depth varies from –3.6 to –2.2°C. Below this layer, the temperature curve in the top part of the section tends to deviate toward positive temperatures, reflecting the modern cycle of climate warming. From the hydrogeological point of view, the area belongs to the marginal zone of the West Spitsbergen cryoadartesian basin. Seawater intrusions near the coast form saline subpermafrost aquifers, including those with temperatures below zero, reflecting the seawater (sodium chloride) composition and hydraulic heads close to sea level. Fresh and slightly saline (sodium bicarbonate on the east coast of Grønfjorden and magnesium–calcium sulfate in gypsum-bearing deposits on the west coast) subpermafrost water with hydraulic heads reaching 100 m above sea level is fed by water-saturated ice in the deep layers of large glaciers.

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

We thank the heads of the RAE-S for organizing field works and laboratory studies at the Laboratory for Chemical Analysis in Barentsburg and to A.S. Paramzin for aerial photography.

Funding

This work was supported by the Russian Scientific Foundation, project no. 19-77-10066. N.E. Demidov’s trip to the Alfred Wegener Institute (Potsdam, Germany) was supported by a project of the Geo-X Network. The participation of S. Wetterich was supported by the German Research Society (DFG), project no. WE4390/7-1.

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Correspondence to N. E. Demidov.

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Translated by I. Bel’chenko

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Demidov, N.E., Borisik, A.L., Verkulich, S.R. et al. Geocryological and Hydrogeological Conditions of the Western Part of Nordenskiold Land (Spitsbergen Archipelago). Izv. Atmos. Ocean. Phys. 56, 1376–1400 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1134/S000143382011002X

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1134/S000143382011002X

Keywords:

  • Spitsbergen
  • permafrost
  • temperature monitoring borehole
  • EM sounding
  • GPR
  • cryogenic structure
  • pingo
  • subpermafrost water
  • warm-based glaciers
  • West Spitsbergen cryoadartesian basin