Sir Martin Conway's Crossing of Spitzbergen

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    SIR MARTIN CONWAY read a paper on the first crossing of Spitzbergen at the meeting of the Royal Geographical Society on January 25, illustrating his description by a series of fine lantern slides of Spitzbergen scenery. He landed at Advent bay, accompanied by Dr. J. W. Gregory, Mr. E. S. Garwood, Mr. A. Trevor-Batty, and Mr. H. E. Con way, two Norwegian sailors, and two ponies. The descriptions of previous travellers had led him to expect a series of boggy coast valleys leading up to an interior plateau covered with snow or ice, on which sledging would be practicable. The actual conditions were very different. The northern and southern parts of Spitzbergen are, in the main, covered with great accumulations of ice, except along the west shore of Wijde bay, where is a relatively fertile area. The middle of the island, west of the main watershed, is a region of boggy valleys, fertile slopes, and mountain ridges, or the remains of a high plateau. The nature and interest of this country can be shown by a few specimen areas. The east shore of Wijde bay is formed by a long and very uniform slope, about 1000 feet high. The ice-sheet almost reaches the edge of this slope, except at a few places where the plateau has been broken down into valleys, whereby tongues of ice reach or approach the sea. That is an example of a plateau protected from denudation by ice. Along the north-east side of the Sassendalthereisa similar plateau, from which, however, the ice-sheet has been withdrawn in recent times. Denudation has begun, and the plateau is being cut down by narrow and precipitous canons, from which it derives the name Colorado Berg. These canons are not being gradually lowered, but they are gradually creeping back. However short, all are practically of the same depth. It is at their heads that they are formed. Each is eating its way back with considerable rapidity, and the whole is the first stage of the formation of a mountain group.

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    Sir Martin Conway's Crossing of Spitzbergen. Nature 55, 306–307 (1897) doi:10.1038/055306a0

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