Bennett Island, Russia

Bennett Island is an island in the De Long Islands group in the East Siberian Sea, in the northeastern part of the New Siberian Islands, Russia. It covers an area of 156.2 km², and reaches the height is up to 426 meters. Administratively it is part of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia). Named after James Gordon Bennett (Jr.).



Bennett Island is part of the De Long Islands group, which are located in the northeastern part of the New Siberian Islands in the East Siberian Sea. The area of the island is 156.25 km², making it the largest island in the group. The island is 30 km long and 10 km wide. Cape Emma is located in the southwest of the island, Cape Sofia and the Chernyshev Peninsula are located in the southeast, Pavel-Köppen Bay stretches from the southeast to the northeast, Cape and Emmeline Peninsula are located in the northeast, and Cape Nadezhda is located in the north.

There are four glaciers on the island with a total area of 65.87 km², which is 42.2% of the island's area. They are located mainly on high basalt plateaus bounded by steep ledge-like slopes. The largest of them is the Toll glacier with an area of 55.5 km². It is located in the central part of the island, the maximum height is 384 meters above sea level, the thickness is 160-170 meters. The Maly Glacier covers an area of 4.04 km² on a basalt plateau 140-160 meters high. The height of the glacier reaches up to 200-210 meters, the thickness is 40-50 meters. In the western part of the island there are two glaciers: De Longa West and East. The area of the first is 1.17 km², it occupies a plateau with a height of 360-380 meters, it is an almost regular cone. It is the highest point of the island, its height is 426 meters. The area of the second glacier is 5.16 km², lies on a plateau-like surface 240-300 meters high, has a complex shape due to the relief of the bedrock surface. Its summit platform reaches 330-340 meters, where the glacier has a maximum thickness of about 40 meters.


Geological structure

Bennet Island is composed of layers of sedimentary and volcanic rocks of the Early Paleozoic, Late Cretaceous, Pliocene and Quaternary geological periods. The oldest rocks exposed on Bennett Island are moderately inclined marine sedimentary rocks of Cambrian and Ordovician age. Thus, in the geological section of Bennett Island, the Cambrian-Ordovician part has a flysch structure without obvious admixtures of volcanic material. They consist of a mudstone sequence approximately 500 m thick with a small amount of siltstone and limestone containing Middle Cambrian trilobites and Ordovician mudstone, siltstone and quartz sandstone 1000 to 1200 m thick, also containing graptolites. These Paleozoic rocks are overlain by Late Cretaceous coal-bearing mudstones and quartzite-like sandstones, as well as basaltic lavas and tuffs with lenses of tuffaceous mudstones. The Late Cretaceous sequences are overlain by Pliocene to Quaternary basalt lavas. The latest Quaternary volcanic rocks form small volcanic cones.


Modern hydrothermal and volcanic activity

Until the 80s of the last century, modern volcanic activity on the island was not given attention. In 1983, a plume of unknown origin was found on satellite imagery, extending northwestward from the island. Subsequent analysis of the images from 1973 to 1986 indicated the cyclicity of their appearance and, for this reason, their most likely meteorological nature, which is similar to Karman's vortex streets. A total of 152 such events were recorded, one of the last of March 12, 2008 was studied separately. This plume was larger than expected due to meteorological causes. Its length was 1,000 km, its volume exceeded 250,000 km³, and its height, equal to 3 km, was higher than the relief of Bennett Island. Aerosols, carbon dioxide and sulfates were found in its composition in large quantities - common components of volcanic and hydrothermal eruptions.

The duration of the events of Bennett plume formations can reach several days. The volume of solid material ejected during such events can reach 0.36 km³, which corresponds to small volcanic eruptions. Subsequent comparison of bathymetric data on the bottom topography around the island showed significant differences from the topography of the 20th century, with the appearance of new cone-shaped shoals that correspond well to the sites of releases. Analysis of samples of marine sediments near the island testifies to the modern impact of hydrothermal solutions, since the cone formations with ferromanganese composition contain the mineral todorokite, which is common only for sediments from hot springs. Thus, modern activity with the formation of gas-steam plumes occurs in a relatively high-temperature environment of the current hydrothermal system and is more likely to be related to hydrothermal eruptions, rather than volcanic ones. By analogy with ordinary geysers, the frequency of eruptions is determined by the time it takes for the aforementioned hydrothermal system to restore water supplies and to warm it up before the next eruption.

It is assumed that one of these volcanic cones could be observed by the De Long expedition. Such volcanic formations are usually quickly destroyed by ocean waves or sea ice and do not remain on the surface for a long time.



In summer, the average monthly temperature is positive. The warmest month is June with an average monthly temperature of 1.2°C.


Flora and fauna

The island is inhabited by the Siberian eider, sandpiper, glaucous guillemot, thick-billed murre, fulmar, arctic fox, polar bear and walrus subspecies Odobenus rosmarus laptevi. Of these, the Siberian eider and the polar bear are listed in the International Red Book, and Odobenus rosmarus laptevi in the Red Book of Russia.



In July 1879, De Long sailed in the direction of Chukotka on the USS Jeannette with a crew of 32 in order to track down the Nordenskjold Swedish polar expedition, which was considered missing on the Vega. Making a stopover in Alaska, De Long in August 1879 passed the Bering Strait and went to Chukotka. Here he learned that the Nordenskjold expedition, after wintering, continued their research and decided to sail to the North Pole. A few days later, on September 5, 1879, not far from the Herald Island in the Arctic Ocean, "Jeannette" freezes into the ice and soon leaks. Drifting on an ice-bound ship, De Long discovered the islands named after him (the De Long Islands) in the East Siberian Sea in 1881. Bennett Island was named by De Long after one of the main sponsors of his expedition, James Gordon Bennett Jr. The northwest headland of the island was named by De Long Cape Emma after his wife. Three months later, De Long, trying to get out of the islands to the mainland, died in the Lena River area

After the discovery, Bennett's Island was identified by many scientists with the hypothetical Sannikov Land.

The next researcher who became interested in the New Siberian Islands and Bennett Island in particular was Eduard Vasilyevich Toll, a Russian geologist and Arctic explorer. In 1899, he began organizing an expedition, the purpose of which was to study the sea currents in the Kara and East Siberian Seas of the Arctic Ocean, explore the already known and search for new islands in this part of the Arctic, including the "big continent" ("Arctida", Sannikov Land), in whose existence Toll believed. On June 21, 1900, the schooner Zarya, which Fridtjof Nansen recommended to Toll as a vessel similar to the famous Fram, weighed anchor in St. Petersburg with 20 crew members on board. The expedition brought significant results, the areas of the Taimyr Peninsula and the New Siberian Islands were explored. In May 1902, preparations began for a luge and boat trip to Bennett's Island in order to study the geological structure of the island. Finally, on July 5, 1902, Toll left Zarya accompanied by the astronomer Friedrich Seeberg and the animal traders Vasily Gorokhov (Yakutsk. Omuk) and Nikolai Dyakonov (according to other sources - Protodyakonov, Evenk. Bagylai Chichakh). The Zarya was planned to arrive at Bennett's Island two months later. On July 13, E. Toll's party in dog sleds reached Cape Vysoky on the island of New Siberia. On August 3, they reached Bennett Island in canoes. Due to the severe ice conditions, the Zarya was unable to approach Bennett's Island at the appointed time and received serious damage, which made further navigation impossible. In September 1902, the captain of the schooner, Lieutenant Mathisen, was forced to take the ship to Tiksi Bay and run aground. It is believed that Toll made the decision to independently move towards the continent, however, no further traces of the group were found.


In January 1903, the Academy of Sciences organized an expedition to search for Toll's group. The expedition took place from May 5 to December 7, 1903. Initially, they thought to send the icebreaker "Ermak" to search, but in the end 17 people were sent on 12 sledges, harnessed by 160 dogs. Lieutenant Alexander Kolchak was appointed head of the search expedition. The trip to Bennett Island took three months and was extremely difficult. On August 4, 1903, reaching Bennett's Island, the expedition discovered traces of Toll and his companions: the expedition's documents, collections, geodetic instruments and a diary were found. It turned out that Toll arrived on the island in the summer of 1902 and headed south with only 2-3 weeks of provisions. It became clear that Toll's expedition had died. The return journey lasted about four months, on December 7, 1902, Kolchak's expedition arrived on the mainland. In 1909, based on the materials of the expeditions, Kolchak published the monograph “The Ice of the Kara and Siberian Seas”.

In 1914-1915 Boris Vilkitsky, a Russian hydrographer, geodesist, explorer of the Arctic, made the first through voyage along the Northern Sea Route from Vladivostok to Arkhangelsk to Bennett Island.

The Soviet zoologist S.M.Uspensky discovered traces of the presence of primitive people on Bennett Island.

In 1956, the Arctic Institute conducted a physical and geographical expedition on the island, which, in particular, proved the absence of a reduction in the dome of the De Long glacier.

In June 1971, the atomic icebreaker Lenin and the diesel icebreaker Vladivostok passed by Bennett Island, crossing the Arctic Ocean for the first time from west to east.

In 1987, the AARI expedition worked on the island for six months. Head - SR Verkulich, participants: AG Krusanov, PV Reikhet, MA Anisimov The expedition established the presence of four glaciers on the island, conducted paleogeographic and glaciological studies, and discovered the nature of the "volcanic" plume. Installed the USSR's first memorial cross to A.V. Kolchak on the southern coast of the island, in the area of ​​the outlet glacier.

In August 2003, a monument was erected on Bennett's Island - a 5-meter cross and a memorial plaque in honor of the centenary of Kolchak's rescue expedition.

In September 2015, a geographic party landed on Bennett's Island to carry out hydrographic work. The anti-terrorist group of the Marines of the Northern Fleet from Sputnik was involved in the defense of the geographical party.


Other facts

The island is mentioned in the novel by the French writer Jules Verne - "The Ice Sphinx" (fr. Le Sphinx des glaces)

Finally, on the right side of the side, land appears - an islet with a circle of one league, which is named after Bennett, together with the captain of the owner of the schooner Jane. The islet is located at 82 ° 50 'South latitude and 42 ° 20' West longitude, Arthur Pym notes in his diary. I urge geographers not to put these fantastic coordinates on the maps of the Antarctic seas!