Hoffmann Island (Ostrov Gofmana) - Franz-Josef-Land


 Öffnet einen internen Link im aktuellen Fensteroverview map Franz Josef Land

General: The oblong and low island in the northeast of Franz-Joseph-Land - maximal length about 13 km, maximal width up to 5 km - is almost completely covered by a similarly shaped long but fairly low ice cap with maximal heights around just 100 m above sea level. Only the rocky westernmost cape and a coastal stretch of several kilometres length and up to 1.5 km width in the northeast is free of ice. Like on other islands furthest northeast in Franz Josef Land, sediment layers of the middle to lower Trias surface in the ice-free areas, which elsewhere in the archipelago are hidden deep down in the underground.

Biology, wildlife: The coastal lowland has only a minimal vegetation and the number of breeding birds on the island is small, as well.

History: The island was discovered and named in spring 1874 by the sledge reconnaissance tour under leadership of Payer from the TEGETTHOFF to the North of the archipelago. 
During the Cold War, Hoffmann served as an auxiliary strategic airfield in Franz-Josef-Land in addition to the other two air bases Nagurskoe on Öffnet einen internen Link im aktuellen FensterAlexandra Land and Greem Bell on Öffnet einen internen Link im aktuellen FensterGraham Bell Island. While on these islands, the bases had gravel runways on the tundra soil, which partly melted up and got soft for short periods in summer, the airstrip on Hoffmann was levelled on the ice of the long ice cap. Sufficient length, an even profile and low height of the ice cap above sea level and a short distance to shore and the ice-free coastal zone for supplies by ship made Hoffmann highly suitable for such a purpose. However, the main military activity, including permanently present staff, was largely restricted to the two other bases. The military station from the 1960s is long abandoned, with its buildings in obvious decay and full of snow and ice.
Because of this former military use, the island is normally off limits for visitors.

Name: The orginal name on the map of Payer from 1874 is spelled Hoffmann. However, on later western maps, one finds also the varieties Hofmann, Goffmann, Gofmann, Goffman, Goffmanna, Gofmanna and Gofmana, partly due to double transscription to kyrillic Russian and back (see also  Öffnet einen internen Link im aktuellen Fensternames confusion).

Tourism: Because of the former military use, permission for visiting the island is often denied. Apart from the remains of the former military station, there isn´t much spectacular to see, either. In late June 2007, the adventurers Børge Ousland and Thomas Ulrich spent a night on the island during their 1300 km tour from the North Pole to Cape Flora on the tracks of Nansen and Johansen.


Last Modification: 24.04.2011