The Arctic has always attracted the attention of military seamen and travelers, but remained an unexplored territory that kept many secrets. One of its mysteries is the small island of Zhokhov, whose population was hunting polar bears 8,000 years ago. Large-scale scientific research works that are conducted on the island, help to get an answer to the question of how the climate and the face of the planet changed for millennia.
Geographical characteristics of the island of Zhokhov
The island of Zhokhov is located in the waters of the East Siberian Sea. He belongs to the group of the De-Long archipelago, considered one of the Novosibirsk islands. It belongs to the territory of the Republic of Sakha (Russia). The distance to the mainland is 440 kilometers, the nearest island Vilkitsky is located 40 km. The island stretches from south to north for 11 km, the width of the northern part is 10 km, in the southern part it is 4 km.
The total area is 58 square meters. Km. The terrain is hilly. The highest elevation is 120 meters high. On a small stretch of land there are several small lagoon-lakes, in which streams with fresh water flow. The island has flat, gentle banks in the south-eastern part. In the north and north-west slopes are steep, their height in some places reaches 12 meters. The sea is shallow near the shores of the island. It freezes in September, and from the beginning of October a stable ice cover is formed.
Geological structure of the island
The island of Zhokhov was formed 10-20 million years ago. The structure of the relief consists of underground ice and rocks that are in permafrost. Among them are limestones, basaltic and xenolithic rocks, in which there are inclusions of olivine. It is they that form the oceanic crust hidden beneath powerful layers of fossil ice.
On the coast the soil is a sandy-silty soil, when thawing, you can find tusks of mammoths and rhinos, bones of horses and other animals. Such finds indicate that the island of Zhokhov, where the permafrost zone is currently located, was a site with mild climatic conditions several millennia ago. During the geological works minerals of garnet, zircon, apatite and some other minerals were found here.
Flora and fauna of the island
The island of Zhokhov, whose photo can be seen in the article, Is the arctic tundra. The average annual air temperature is -7 ° C, in the winter it reaches 40 degrees below zero at a wind speed of up to 40 m / sec. In a short Arctic summer, which happens in July-August, the soil does not have time to thaw to a greater depth. Therefore, the plant world is represented by low-power mosses, lichens and herbs, which grow in small groups. Almost all representatives of the flora are pressed to the ground, escaping from the cold wind. On the island there is no continuous vegetation cover. In many places, rocky soil acts on the soil. But even in such harsh conditions it is sometimes possible to meet polar poppies and saxifrage.
Due to the cold climate and poor vegetation, the fauna of the island of Zhokhov is not diverse. Here you can meet the colonies of seabirds, but its main representatives are polar foxes and polar bears. From marine animals, walruses and seals live there, adapted to exist in the harsh conditions of the Arctic. In addition, there are whales and killer whales. In the summer time on the waters of the island you can see the northern ducks and geese.
Polar weather station on the island
In 1955 a polar station was set up on the island, where 28 people worked. In the severe Arctic zone there is no permanent population. Change of polar explorers was held every two years. The station monitored the weather, tracked seismic activity and the movement of ice in the area of the De Longa Archipelago.
Fuel for diesel installations, products and equipment was delivered to the island by aircraft AN-12. For this purpose, an airfield and wooden houses were built. They housed a living quarters, a weather station, a radio room, a wardroom, a kitchen. When the Soviet Union collapsed, there were difficulties in supplying and servicing expensive infrastructure. Financing of the Arctic research work was discontinued. In 1993 the station was closed.
The need to develop the islands of the Novosibirsk archipelago, to study the ice situation and to forecast weather conditions again arose due to the fact that oil, gas and other minerals were found in the Arctic. In 2014, meteorological observation systems were restored in the waters of the northern seas. The program also included the island of Zhokhov, where an automatic weather station was installed. Currently, it transmits weather data to Roshydromet.
History of the island's discovery
The need to study the Northern Sea Route arose in Russia after the defeat in the war with Japan in 1904-1905, when it was necessary to transfer ships from the Baltic Sea to the shores of the Far East. For this purpose, the Hydrographic Expedition was created. She made a decision on the passage of the Arctic Ocean, from the Bering Strait to the Barents Sea. Then no one knew that to the north of the peninsula of Taimyr is a large archipelago.
Until 1912, research was conducted in the Bering Strait and the adjacent seas. In 1913, it was decided to move from Chukotka to Arkhangelsk on the icebreakers Taimyr and Vaigach. Captains BA Vilkitsky and PA Novopashenny commanded them. During the transition, the icebreakers had to disperse. "Taimyr" went to the cape Chelyuskin, and "Vaigach" was engaged in the search for "Sannikov Land", which he did not find. As the sea was calm, and there was almost no ice on the surface, the ship followed north of the previously laid route.
August 14, 1914 watch officer Alexei Nikolaevich Zhokhov noticed in the East Siberian Sea island. He was not on the map. It was called Newfound Island. When Captain PA Novopashenny emigrated from Russia, in 1926 The island was renamed the island of Zhokhov in honor of the lieutenant who saw him first.
During the period from 2000 to 2005, excavations were conducted on the island. At this time, found the parking of ancient northern people engaged in hunting polar bears and deer. Scientists came to the island of Zhokhov. Sights in the form of artefacts from archaeological excavations, they began to study in detail. By the way, these finds indicate that people lived here 7,8-8 thousand years ago. The total area of excavation was 570 square meters. M. In the collection of archaeological finds there are products made of stone, wood, mammoth tusks, as well as birch bark woven things.
It is known that in the settlement there were from 25 to 50 people, among whom were women. The discovered objects indicate that the meat of polar bears was used for food, which was not found in any of the previously found northern settlements. Ancient northern people also hunted to get furs. Bone remains of dogs were found, which testified that they were grown on the island.
As a result of complex studies it was established that people living on the island of Zhokhov belonged to the Uralic language family. They came there from the Urals or from Western Siberia. At present, the East Siberian region of the Arctic is least studied. However, it is a part of Russia's strategic interests and is of great interest not only for politicians, but also for geologists, biologists and other scientists.