2004 Expedition Blog
Friday, 17 September 2004, 23:54 (CF2 time)
Buoy overboard! Well, one of those exclamations you wouldn't want to hear too often on ship, but in this case it was a quite innocent art experiment, one involving a small block of plaster being attached to a floating tall buoy with large red flag tied to the top of it. The block is (as we write) submerged to a depth of about 10 metres, the bottom of the fjord is estimated to be 50 metres deep. The idea is to find out how the water currents are moving, and the plaster form is a wonderfully receptive material, slowly eroding over hours in reaction to the force of the water acting upon and around it. Tomorrow we pull it up to the surface to see what kind of registration there is, if it is still there of course!
Our fist experience today of climbing up to an ice cap. We landed onto a beach of small rocks, many in the process of being split apart by the merciless forces of freeze and thaw action, shattered and cleaved by ice and wind. Fossils are plentiful, shells and sea-sponges, but current Svalbard legislation does not permit the removal of these ancient records of geological history, their fate is to be fragmented beyond recognition on this deeply isolated shore.
We climbed up the slope of sedimentary rocks, captivated by clumps of tender green and red mosses, a few arctic poppies, a reindeer suddenly spotted up high viewing us with suspicion. As we gained height the terrain became small rocks embedded in ice, smaller stones, until we stepped into a vista of pure ice, solid, far-reaching, beyond any experience we could draw to comforting memory. Sheer and seemingly endless. Our figures held in stillness as a silence descended. Figures without shadows. It is near impossible to talk of beauty in a place like this, it is phenomenal. It is quite simply sublime.