Edgeøya - Geography and Ecology

Geography and Ecology

Edgeøya is located at geographical co-ordinates 77°40′N 22°30′E / 77.667°N 22.5°E / 77.667; 22.5. To the west lies Storfjorden, which separates Edgeøya from Spitsbergen. To the north, the sound known as Freemansundet lies between Edgeøya and Barentsøya. In the northeast, Olgastretet separates Edgeøya from Kong Karls Land. Minor island groups lay to the east (Ryke Yseøyane) and to the south (Tusenøyane). The island's south coast in indented by its largest fjord, Tjuvfjorden. The island's northernmost point is Kapp Heuglin, a cape named in August 1870 for the German explorer Theodor von Heuglin (1824–76), during the Heuglin-Zeil expedition.

Geologically, the island resembles central Spitsbergen, with Mesozoic rocks (specifically, Triassic shales with subordinate sandstones, with occasional diabase intrusions, and, in the southwest, strata from the Jurassic), the effects of glacial erosion, and appearance of polar ice caps. On the eastern side of the island is the large glacier of Edgeøyjøkulen.

Along with Barentsøya and some of the neighbouring islands, Edgeøya forms part of South East Svalbard Nature Reserve, established by the Norwegian government in 1973. There is a significant reindeer population, and the island is an important site for polar bear reproduction; moreover, the polar bear population in this Barents Sea area is a unique deme (unique genetic population).

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