The Eastern Arctic Seas Encyclopedia

2016 Edition
| Editors: Igor S. Zonn, Andrey G. Kostianoy, Aleksandr V. Semenov

Urvantsev, Nikolay Nikolayevich (1893–1985)

Reference work entry

Urvantsev, Nikolay Nikolayevich (1893–1985) – a Russian explorer, geologist, Doctor of Geological and Mineralogical Sciences, honored master of sciences, and an engineer of the Russian Federation (1974). He graduated from the Tomsk Engineering Institute in 1918. While working at the Geological Committee U. explored the mineral resources of the Taymyr. Between 1919 and 1932, he discovered and explored the copper-nickel-Platinum Group Metal deposits at Norilsk and made the first topographic survey of Norilsk lakes. Together with Nikifor Begichev in the spring of 1922, U. followed the course of the Pyasina River to its mouth, made his way to the west along the Kara Sea coast, explored the boundaries of the Byrranga mountain range, and found evidence of the Amundsen’s Arctic expedition crew members who mysteriously disappeared. In 1930–1932 U. acted as a scientific advisor for the Severnaya Zemlya expedition headed by G. Ushakov. Overall, the expedition headed by U. and Ushakov has covered the distance of 2,200 km. Instead of only two major islands reflected on previous maps, the expedition has discovered three major islands, one medium-sized island and several smaller islands. Urvantsev’s expedition explored the surface topography and the geological structure features of the archipelago and has made its new, more accurate map. In 1933, for the first time in the history of Arctic research, U. used half-track vehicles. He explored the northern slope of the Taymyr Peninsula and made a topographic survey of 800 km of its coast including the Theresa Clavenes Bay as well as the Komsomolskaya Pravda Islands. In the 1930s U. was the Deputy Director of the Arctic Institute. In 1938 he was wrongfully accused and served his sentence at Norilsk labor camps. In 1955 he was fully exonerated and later became honorary citizen of Norilsk. In 1959 he was awarded the Great Gold Medal by the USSR Geographical Society.

List of works: At the Severnaya Zemlya (1969), Taymyr, my Northern Land (1978), and The Discovery of Norilsk (1981).

A harbor and a cape in the Minina Skerries in the Kara Sea as well as a rock in the Antarctic have been named after Nikolay Urvantsev.

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