The Eastern Arctic Seas Encyclopedia

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

Bennett Island

Reference work entry

Bennett Island – a part of the De Long Archipelago in the northeastern part of the New Siberian Islands, East Siberian Sea, the Sakha Republic (Yakutia), Russia. The area is about 150 km2, and the height is up to 426 m. The island has a prolate form stretching from southwest to northeast. The distance from the southwestern Cape Emma (named after the wife and widow of the American polar explorer D. De Long) to the northeastern Cape Emmelina (named after the wife and widow of a Russian polar explorer E. Toll) comprises 28 km and from the northwestern Cape Nadezhda to the southeastern Cape Sophia 14.5 km. There is Cape Sophia on the island which was named by A.V. Kolchak after his fiancée (wife and widow) Sophia Fedorovna Omirova and still bears this name. He married her in Irkutsk after returning from the last expedition of E.V. Toll. In the southwestern part of the island not far from Cape Emma, there is Mount De Long (426 m high), the highest point not only on the island but in the whole New Siberian Archipelago. The cliffs along the shores reach the height of 200–220 m. Virtually all the territory of the island excluding the coastal cliffs is covered with glaciers. On the territories where the glaciers go down to the sea, the shores consist of glacier ice. Here there are three isolated glacier domes. The biggest lies in the central part of the island and is named the Toll Dome with the area of 55.5 km2 and 400 m high; the ice is 150–160 m thick. The water around the island is also frozen. The vegetation is extremely rare (tracheophytes and mosses), mostly in the flat coastal areas with high bedding of long-term frozen soils and polygonal deposits on the surface.

The island was discovered in 1881 by the participants of the polar expedition on the yacht “Jeannette” under the command of lieutenant D. De Long and named after the publisher of the American newspaper “New York Herald” James Gordon Bennett who subsidized the expedition. De Long spent 10 days on the island. After its discovery, the island was identified by many scientists with the hypothetical Sannikov Land.

It was first described and mapped by the Russian Arctic explorer E.V. Toll in 1902. In January 1903 the Academy of Sciences organized an expedition aimed at rescuing E.V. Toll’s group. The expedition took place in the period from May 5 to December 7, 1903. The initial plan was to send the icebreaker “Ermak” in search of the expedition, but eventually it was decided to send 17 people in 12 dog sledges yoked by 160 dogs. The head of the expedition was A.V. Kolchak. It took the participants 3 months to reach B.I. and the travel was very hard. On August 4, 1903, on reaching B.I., the expedition discovered the traces of E.V. Toll and his companions: documents of the expedition, collections, geodesic instruments, and a diary. It was found out that Toll arrived at the island in the summer of 1902 and headed for the south having the food in stock only for 2–3 weeks. It became clear that the expedition had perished. The way back lasted for about 4 months. On December 7, 1903, Kolchak’s expedition returned to the mainland. The materials of the expedition served as a base for A.V. Kolchak’s monograph “Ice of the Kara and the Siberian Sea” published in 1909.

In 2003 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of E.V. Toll’s expedition rescue by the expedition of A.V. Kolchak, the island saw the erection of a 5-m high cross and a memory plate.

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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016