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Jan Mayen - Geography

The seas between Norway, the Faroe Islands, Iceland and Greenland, along with the Barents Sea to the east, have a certain unity. The region forms the link between the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the south. By virtue of the ice coverage in the main Arctic Ocean, and the channels leading north from the area, the obvious link is to the Atlantic. In terms of transport and economic relationships, this maritime region can be said to form a continuation of the Atlantic Ocean. In terms of the economic interests of the coastal populations, however, the region has a distinctive character. In informa1 usage, references to the region often use the adjective "Atlantic".

The distance between Jan Mayen and Icelandic fishing ports is approximately 350 to 380 nautical miles, between Jan Mayen and Tromso (continental Norway) 572 nautical miles, between Jan Mayen and Alesund (continental Norway) 636 nautical miles The sailing distance from NuukIGodthaab (Greenland) to Jan Mayen is 1,500 nautical miles, and from Cape Farvel (the southernmost point in Greenland) 1,114 nautical miles. The distances from Ittoqqortoormiit/Scoresbysund (Greenland) to Cape Farvel and to NuukIGodthaab are 859 and 1,245 nautical miles respectively.

Jan Mayen is a barren volcanic spoon-shaped island with some moss and grass flora; island consists of two parts: a larger northeast Nord-Jan (the spoon "bowl") and the smaller Sor-Jan (the "handle"), linked by a 2.5 km-wide isthmus (the "stem") with two large lakes, Sorlaguna (South Lagoon) and Nordlaguna (North Lagoon).

The island of Jan Mayen has as its southernmost point Sorkapp ("the South Cape") at 70°49'6 N, 9°00'0 W, and stretches northeastwards to Nordkapp ("the North Cape") at 71°09'7 N, 7°58'3 W. The length of the island is 53.6 kilometers; the breadth varies between 2.5 and 16 kilometers. The total area is 380 square kilometers (148 square miles). For cornparison, the total area of the Republic of Malta is 316 square kilometers (123 square miles). Its shape can be compared to a club: the head is formed by the volcanic mountain Beerenberg (2,277 metres above sea level) in the northeastern part, the handle is the southwestern part, varying in elevation from 20 metres to peaks of between 700 and 800 meters.

The long dormant Beerenberg volcano, the northernmost active volcano on earth, resumed activity in 1970 and the most recent eruption occurred in 1985. Beerenberg volcano has numerous peaks; the highest point on the volcano rim is named Haakon VII Toppen, after Norway's first king following the reestablishment of Norwegian independence in 1905.

The northern part of the island is the active Beerenberg stratovolcano (2,277 meters high), which is surmounted by an ice cap from which 20 outlet glaciers emanate. Sørbreen is the largest (15 square kilometers) and the best studied of these outlet glaciers. The maximum postglacial expansion of the outlet glaciers occurred at the end of the "Little Ice Age" (around the year 1850), and an oscillating retreat has taken place since that time. A marked advance around 1910 and again in 1960 was separated by a recession that ended about 1950. The 1960 advance was caused by reduced summer temperatures and ablation. The earliest recorded observations of Søbreen were in 1632, but the first modern topographic map was not published until 1959.

The September 1970 lava flows created about 4 km2 of new land on the northeastern part of the island. Lava flows also entered the sea during the January 1985 activity, and a steam vent formed on the northern edge of the summit crater and produced a collapse cauldron in the upper part of Weyprechtbreen.

The Jan Mayen ridge is characterized as a submerged micro-continent, predating in origin the nascence of the islands of Jan Mayen and Iceland. Both those islands are described as being composed of relatively young rocks of volcanic origin. The ridge, however, is a long sliver of continental crust - a micro-continent - once a part of the Laurasian supercontinent. During the Tertiary Geological Era it was split off the Norwegian and Greenland continental margins through a two-phased process of seafloorspreading: About 57 million years ago the ridge, still connected to Greenland was split off from the Norwegian Coast, while the final split from Greenland took place about 26 million years ago.

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Page last modified: 22-07-2017 18:08:15 ZULU