Preparation for field trip - History of Svalbard
Today was a preparation day for our field trip on the weekend. We spent the morning with buying chocolates and candies, preparing our equipment and borrowing some equipment at the UNIS logistics. At 2 pm we had a security briefing for the fieldwork. This contains information about the area, like a geological overview and morphological specifics provided by some aerial pictures. This briefing includes some general information about polar bears in the area and remindes us to the general rules of meeting polar bears.
The second part of the day was characterized by the history of Svalbard. Thor B. Arlov was lecturer for this and he presented a short and gripping overview. The island of Svalbard was discovered by Willem Barents, a dutch captain, as far as known so far. It was first a part time base for whale hunters and trappers. At the beginning of the 20th century the temporary settlements were replaced by a permanent mining colony. John M. Longyear, an American businessman, founded a mining company in 1905 on Svalbard, the camp was named after him. In 1925 Svalbard finally became part of Norway. The island was evacuated and destroyed during world war two and rebuild afterwards.
Crane, power plant and view to Isfjorden (Benno Rummel).
After this introduction we had a walking excursion. Thor B. Arlov and Hanne H. Christiansen showed us key sites of Longyearbyean. As it is characteristic for excursions, we received hard weather conditions with temperatures of 2°C and a wind chill around -10°C. Thor and Hanne started their trip at the university center. Afterwards we visited the old part of town on the western side of the Longyeardalen valley. We saw several old and new governmental buildings of the Sysselmannen, the Norwegian governor of Svalbard. The excursion had a close connection to mining and its effects to the town. The old installations like transport systems for coal, power plants and quays are still visible. They are protected as a cultural heritage. Hanne informed us about arctic town planning as well.
Liz, Laura, Sean and Graham after dinner (Benno Rummel).
Finally we had an excellent dinner at Kroa, a cute restaurant at Longyearbyen.